On Friday 1 October, Catalonia celebrates the fourth anniversary of the 2017 independence referendum. Civil society and pro-independence parties commemorate the event that marks a before and after in the history of Catalonia. The aim is to reaffirm the democratic mandate which emerged from the referendum, in which 90% voted in favour of independence.

The referendum, led by exiled Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, remains a crucial milestone for the pro-independence movement, not only because the plebiscite was held despite Spain’s opposition, but also due to the violence of Spanish police towards voters that day, which left over 1,000 people injured according to the Catalan government health department.

Events and protests marking the vote will take place from Friday to Sunday. CDR grassroots activists have called several protests across the country, including one at Barcelona’s Plaça Francesc Macià on Friday at 7 pm. “Let’s free the land,” is its motto. The same group has organized other rallies at the same time at Vic’s Plaça 1 d’Octubre and at 7.30 pm at Girona’s Generalitat. “On October 1 we wrote one of the most important pages of our recent history. We showed the world the meaning of solidarity and dignity, and it will not be forgotten,” said the organizers.

Logistics of the vote

Granollers and Santa Coloma de Gramenet are other towns that will host events organized by CDR activists, who are known for direct action during pro-independence protests. Some of their previous actions include blocking highways and high-speed train links, building barricades and burning dumpsters in the Catalan capital to reject the referendum leaders’ convictions as well as the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasel.

Also on Friday, the pro-independence major organization ANC will hold a political event at 5 pm in the town of Illa or Ille-sur-Têt, in Northern Catalonia, administratively part of southern France, but part of the Catalan territory until 1659. Cultural ties remain, including the use of the Catalan language, and in the run-up to the 1 October referendum, a network of people there were key for the logistics of the vote, as they could operate beyond the scope of the Spanish police.

Dozens of other events organized by local ANC chapters will also take place across Catalonia, with 1 October referendum ballot boxes symbolically being sent to each event from Northern Catalonia.

Official event and three marches

The Catalan government will organize a single event to mark the day at Barcelona’s Maternitat facility, which all of the cabinet members will attend.

On Saturday, ANC will hold three marches to commemorate the referendum and to call for independence. One of them will begin in Sant Julià de Ramis at 8 am and end in Aiguaviva, in the Girona area, with another one between Vinaròs and La Ràpita at 2 pm and a third one from Fraga to Lleida at 6 am.

On Sunday, several pro-independence groups including ANC but also the Intersindical CSC trade union will hold a demonstration that will begin at Barcelona’s Plaça del Cinc d’Oros at 11 am.

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