MADRID: Maria Angeles Galan, a 65-year-old retiree from Madrid, expressed her concerns, stating, “What Pedro Sanchez wants is to cut Spain into pieces, to have the Basque country on one side and Catalonia on the other, and to say nothing happened.”
In a show of resistance, tens of thousands of Spaniards filled the streets of Madrid on Saturday to oppose a proposed amnesty law crucial for the left-wing government’s political survival and aimed at Catalan separatists and activists.
Approximately 170,000 people, as reported by the police, congregated in Plaza de Cibeles at the core of the Spanish capital, heeding the call by right-wing leaders who stand against the amnesty plan.
Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, in office since 2018, secured a reinstatement after the July parliamentary elections by gaining support from regionalist groups, including Catalan pro-independence parties. In return for their crucial votes, Sanchez conceded to various demands, including the adoption of the amnesty bill for separatist leaders and activists involved in Catalonia’s 2017 secession attempt.
Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the right-wing leader who came second in the elections, accused Sanchez of dividing Spaniards and emphasized the lack of support for the government’s actions.
Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right party Vox, also attended the demonstration, labeling the law “as serious as a coup d’etat.”
According to Mariana, a 51-year-old entrepreneur present at the demonstration, the protest conveyed a message to Europe. The European Commission had sought an explanation from Madrid about the amnesty bill, citing concerns raised by a significant number of citizens.
Luis Garrido, a self-proclaimed “socialist but not a Sanchist,” criticized the prime minister for accepting the price of the amnesty bill, expressing fears of Spain sinking and being divided.
While the demonstration dispersed peacefully after speeches, the protest reflected ongoing discontent, with daily demonstrations outside the Socialist Party headquarters in Madrid, some turning violent and leading to numerous arrests over the past two weeks.