Marta Lasalas El Nacional
Photo: Sergi Alcàzar
After the Plaça Catalunya welcomed the highest authorities of the Spanish state and of Catalonia to pay silent tribute, a stream of people then poured along La Rambla avenue, making it very clear that neither Barcelona nor Catalonia are afraid, despite the brutal terrorist attack that had taken place there yesterday, as well as in the town of Cambrils.
“I am not afraid” (No tinc por) was the cry most repeated by Barcelona residents and visitors to the city, who decided to pay homage by walking the same route where the victims had been trapped by the terrorists. The City Council of Barcelona estimated that around 100,000 people had congregated this morning in the centre of the city. At certain points in the avenue of La Rambla, tributes of flowers and candles have also been placed.
At twelve o’clock, however, silence won the day. King Felipe VI, the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, the president of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, together with the president of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, all headed up the silent homage. Also present was vice president, Oriol Junqueras, as well as all members of the Catalan government, the deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, the minister Juan Ignacio Zoido, and Catalan minister, Dolors Montserrat.
Also in Barcelona were the leaders of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party), Pedro Sánchez, Podemos (We Can), Pablo Iglesias, and C’s (Citizens), Albert Rivera.
Also in the front rows were the Catalan parliamentary groups – who this morning met the Catalan Minister of Interior, Quim Forn, to receive first-hand information – deputies from Congress and senators, and a range of authorities and representatives from society, from the president of Òmnium, Jordi Cuixart, to the president of Barça, Josep Maria Bartomeu, through to the leader of the UGT (General Union of Workers), José Maria Álvarez.
The highest authorities arrived at the Plaza Catalunya just before the minute’s silence, and entered together. Felipe VI headed the event, with Puigdemont and Rajoy on both sides. When finished, the monarch spoke for some minutes with those present, and then left in his vehicle.
Puigdemont and Rajoy did the same, as at 1.15pm they were scheduled to meet at the Interior Ministry with the crisis cabinet, where, in addition to representatives from the Catalan government, the vice president and the ministers also participated.
This is the first joint meeting, since yesterday Puigdemont’s government led the response to the attack alone. Rajoy could not take part in a meeting with the representative of the Spanish government, Enric Millo, nor with the military commanders in Barcelona until 11.30pm. For the appointment, the Spanish Interior minister did not arrive until halfway through the meeting, nor did the deputy prime minister finally arrive, despite it being announced. The first public appearance of Rajoy was, therefore, at 12.30am. Nearly eight hours had passed since the brutal attack in La Rambla.
Puigdemont received, however, a call from Rajoy, as he himself explained at the meeting, but they have not been seen together until this morning’s minute of silence and then later, in the meeting of the crisis cabinet.
Both Carles Puigdemont and Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona, went to the minute’s silence on foot, from the Catalan government building and from the City Hall. When it finished, the president of the Parliament, Carme Forcadell, and the vice president, Oriol Junqueras, crossed over to La Rambla. They both had an opportunity to hear the strong response from the citizens of Barcelona.