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Unrest in Spain Catalonia’s Democratic Tsunami movement – born in Geneva?

manifestantes y hogueras en la calle

Barcelona, 16 de octubre de 2019. Las protestas contra la sentencia del Tribunal Supremo han derivado en una oleada de violencia en Cataluña.

(Keystone / Andreu Dalmau)

Switzerland was the launchpad for a digital platform fuelling protests in Spain, according to the Geneva daily Le Temps and Spanish media. 

Efforts to split the northeastern region of Catalonia region from Spain created chaos in 2017 and set the stage for fresh conflict when on Monday the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced nine politicians and activists to up to 13 years in jail.  

Protests have disrupted traffic in Barcelona, including its international airport, and deteriorated into night-time clashes between pro-independence demonstrators and police.  

A major question has been who is behind Democratic Tsunami, a social media account that has been specifying the meeting times and locations for protest actions. 

Democratic Tsunami has become “the backbone of popular protest” in Barcelona and other Catalan cities, notes Le Tempsexternal link. “Although the main players deny it, there are many signs pointing in the same direction: the origin of the democratic tsunami is in Geneva,” it adds. The same notion has been advanced by the Spanish press. 

Le Temps reports that the idea of a citizens’ platform took shape during a late August meeting in the Geneva countryside that “went practically unnoticed”. It was attended by leading figures of the Catalan independence movement including the president of the Catalan government Quim Torra and his predecessor Carles Puigdemont, who often visits Geneva, as well as Marta Rovira and Anna Gabriel, two Swiss-based politicians supportive of Catalan independence. 

The aim of the meeting was “to try to unify the field of independence, which groups together very diverse political tendencies, but also to prepare the continuation of the movement” once the Spanish Supreme Court handed down its sentence, according to the newspaper. 

‘Inexhaustible campaign’ 

In a video posted a few days later on social networks – which according to Le Temps seems to be from the aforementioned meeting – Puigdemont and Rovira speak of the need to “recover the initiative” and “take action”.  

Rovira calls for a “joint action” of institutions external linkand society but also between the independentistas inside Catalonia and those abroad. 

On September 2, Democratic Tsunami issued its first communiqué in which it advocated “irony, creativity and diversity”. It said it did not aspire to be an organisation but a “constant, continuous and inexhaustible campaign”. 

tuit marta rovira

tuit video marta rovira y carles puigdemont

According to the Spanish media, three minutes later Rovira retweeted the Democratic Tsunami message. Oriol Junqueras (the imprisoned Catalan leader who received the highest sentence), Puigdemont and Torra followed suit. Within a few hours the movement’s Twitter account gained more than 10,000 followers. It currently has almost 185,000 followers. 


Translated from Spanish by Dominique Soguel, swissinfo.ch

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