Nine months after thousands of pro-independence supporters came out in full force on Catalonia's national day, separatists on Saturday night held one of the biggest concert rallies ever at Camp Nou to demand that the regional government follows through on its proposal to hold a vote on sovereignty next year.
Organized by Òmnium Cultural and promoted throughout the media, the event attracted around 90,000 people, who packed out Barcelona's soccer stadium. The crowds waved independence flags and held up letters to form large messages on one side of the stadium, such as "Catalonia is not Spain," and "Freedom for Catalonia."
Neither regional premier Artur Mas of Unió nor his political partner Josep Antoni Duran Lleida of Convergència attended the rally. But a fair number of government officials from the Catalan nationalist CiU bloc were in attendance, including deputy premier Joana Ortega.
According to sources close to Mas, the regional premier has begun shying away from holding a referendum if he cannot win the central government's approval. His stance has irritated his parliamentary partners in the Catalan Republican Left (ERC).
Singers Luís Llach, Pastora, María del Mar Bonet, Dyango and Peret gave performances, and called on the central Spanish government to allow the region to hold its referendum on independence next year. People paid between 10 and 150 euros to attend the event.
Murial Casals, Òmnium president, demanded that Catalan government officials set a date for the referendum.