. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .
An article from the Huffington Post Spanish edition (Translated by CPNN and reprinted with respect to the principles of ” Fair use “)
“Enough excuses! Let’s go now!” Under this motto, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Barcelona as convened by the organization “Casa Nostra, Casa Vostra” to demand that Spanish authorities put in place immediately a plan to welcome the thousands of refugees that arrive each day to Europe fleeing the horror of war.
The demonstration, attended by some 160,000 people according to the police and around 500,000 according to the organizers, started in the Plaza Urquinaona of the Catalan capital and marched to the promenade via the Via Laietana and Doctor Aiguader Street. The idea is to march to the Mediterranean Sea, where last year 5,000 people died while trying to reach the European continent.
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The protest emulates the historic mobilization of Barcelona in 2003 against the war in Iraq. The organizers asked participants to dress in blue to give the image of a blue tide moving from the center of the city to the sea.
The first block of the march was formed by the thousands of volunteers of the “Volem Acollir” (We want to welcome) campaign, followed by members of refuge and immigration related groups, then a third block formed by other social organizations and a fourth by political and institutional representatives.
Up to 900 organizations joined the initiative (mostly Catalan, but also from other parts of Spain) and more than 70,900 people have signed their manifesto, including personalities from the political, cultural and associative world.
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, present in the mobilization, expressed confidence that the city “will become the capital of hope, the defense of human rights and peace.”
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(Click here for the original Spanish version of this article)
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Speaking to reporters, the mayor said she is “excited” by the massive turnout, and she stressed that the demonstration is a message for the states of Europe to establish “safe routes” for immigrants. She also pointed out that the demonstration may inspire more events in other European cities with calls for “hope and life.”
The Minister of the Presidency of the Generalitat, Neus Munté, called on the European Union to go “beyond” its asylum policies and establish safe corridors for refugees. He assured that Catalonia is prepared to welcome the refugees and that it considers the demonstration this Saturday as a “unanimous cry” to highlight the situation of refugees.
The first secretary of the PSC, Miquel Iceta, stated that the western countries have caused the crisis of the refugees by its interventions in the Middle East. He stated that “nobody is innocent”, and demanded that we not allow the modern crusaders to cause the death of people in the Mediterranean. “The refugees are simply fleeing from hunger and war,” he insisted, and he called for all voices to be united to encourage institutions to make welcome policies.
Parliament President Carme Forcadell also called on the European Union institutions to change their “harmful” policies on refugees with the aim of welcoming more people and recalled that in February 2016 the Parliament adopted two declarations against the EU agreement with Turkey. “We hope that the demonstration will help other cities and states in Europe to do the same so that we can change these policies that go against the spirit of the EU,” he said.
For her part, the CUP deputy in the Parlament Gabriela Serra lamented that the Mediterranean has become a sea formed by “a mantle of 5,000 dead.” She expressed a deep indignation towards all institutions for their inaction: “Starting with ours.” “We are here to ask for action and we say that the Spanish government is failing,” she said, and she criticized the fact that of the 4,500 refugees that the State has promised to host, only 200 have arrived.
The deputy of Ciudadanos in the Parlament Sonia Sierra demanded the establishment of a common European policy for the reception of refugees, and she called for assistance to Italy and Greece to improve the conditions of the refugees there. She criticized the host agreements reached by the European Union with Turkey because they violate human rights, according to her, and she pointed out that the central government has breached its reception commitments.