I told Florian, Marga and Eli about my website and that the story that I want to write about next is the Catalan Independence Movement. Today, Florian has set a meeting with one of his employees, Pol Vidal. Florian also emailed me, via Marga, a list of planned demonstrations (aka la manifestacion).

Pol is from Figueres and is a really nice guy, very earnest and passionate about his beliefs. Beliefs which have not only been moulded by his cultural identity but also by his experiences as a Catalan. Two in particular stood out as examples of an unjust disparity. Maybe this is not yet another expression of nationalism.

He completed his university degree in Naples, Italy. Students receive financial assistance which is made up of two parts. One part from the EU and one part from the Spanish government. He received the EU portion (€1000 per year) but, because he is Catalan, he was denied the Spanish portion. His fellow Spanish students received €600 per month. He got nothing.

He was in Naples during the 2015 regional elections. As is normal practice here in Continental Europe, he went to the Spanish Embassy to cast his vote. The officials there not only made it impossible for him to vote, they actually ridiculed and laughed at him.

Some time after this initial “interview”, I spoke to Pol again about both of these issues. Regarding the government student grant, it seems possible that he didn’t receive these funds because his parents have the means to support him. Regarding his attempt to vote, this was a regional election, therefore, no provisions were made for people to vote whilst abroad. In other words, neither of his “examples of an unjust disparity” were anything of the sort.

The link that Marga sent me said that there was a demonstration scheduled for 07:15pm at La Sagrera so I went straight from my meeting with Pol. I was going to walk there but Florian told me how to get there by underground train. Very easy, very efficient and, very clean.

When I got to ground level at La Sagrera train station, I was greeted by four police cars, at least six cops (basically surrounding the entrance) and, an ambulance. I walked around a bit getting my bearings and looking for any signs of a demo or rally or anything. Nada.

About ten minutes later, the police got into their cars and left. As did the ambulance. As this was happening, I saw a young woman talking on her phone. She was looking at the cops and laughing as she spoke on her mobile. Completely unrelated or, was she telling the organisers that their hoax/prank had worked?

Still looking for a story, I went to the address given on the announcement. Yep, a very specific address had been provided. It was a block of private flats. Right on the main street. Which was a busy dual carriageway with shops and everything else one would expect in an urban and rather smart district. The flats were very well maintained with a concierge positioned in the rather affluent looking foyer. On one of the lower balconies was displayed the usual Catalan flag and the very common yellow ribbon. A symbol of the politicians and activists imprisoned by the government in Madrid.

Outside there was a young couple very obviously waiting for someone or something. They kept checking their mobile phones and he girl was quite clearly getting more and more agitated. Were they, like me and the police at La Sagrera, here for a demonstration? Were we all victims of an elaborate prank?

I waited for thirty minutes and then I too, left.

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