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Human chain stretches across Spain as Catalonians march for independence
Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The human chain in Spain forms mainly on the plains ... of Catalonia.

Catalans massed in a vast human chain stretching hundreds of miles along the Mediterranean coast on Wednesday, demanding independence from Spain in the face of fierce opposition from the national government.

Hundreds of thousands of people in yellow T-shirts joined in, according to organizers, yelling "Independence!"

They linked hands along highways and through towns in the northeastern region, amid countless pro-independence flags bearing the red and yellow stripes of Catalonia overlaid with a white star on a blue background.

Proud of their Catalan language and culture, but suffering now in a recession, many of the 7.5 million people in debt-laden Catalonia say they feel slighted and short-changed by the central government which redistributes their taxes.

"We need to put an end to the cultural and economic suffocation we are suffering," said Carme Forcadell, president of the Catalan National Assembly, the grassroots group organizing the human chain.

"We have come out in our hundreds of thousands into the street to show in a democratic and inclusive way that we are capable of achieving any aim we set ourselves," she told the crowd in central Barcelona.

She said the rally aimed to draw 400,000 people and stretch for 250 miles along Catalonia's Mediterranean coast.

Wednesday's protest marked Catalonia's national day, the Diada, which recalls the conquest of Barcelona by Spanish king Philip V's forces that year.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's right-leaning government refuses to countenance a breakup of Spain, and has vowed to block a referendum on self-rule that Catalonia's regional president Artur Mas has promised for 2014.

Agence France Presse.

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Catalans run as they create a 250-mile human chain, part of a campaign for independence from Spain during Catalonia National Day, or Diada, in Alcanar, on September 11, 2013. Independence-seeking Catalans marshalled their forces today to make a human link they say will stretch across 86 cities, towns and villages along the coast of the northeastern region on the Mediterranean, passing landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona and the city's Camp Nou football stadium.

(JOSE JORDAN - AFP/Getty Images)
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A child rides as a passenger on a bike sporting Catalonia's flag "Estelada" during celebrations for Catalonia National Day, or Diada, in Barcelona on September 11, 2013. Independence-seeking Catalans marshalled their forces today in a bid to create a 250-mile human chain they say will stretch across 86 cities, towns and villages along the coast of the northeastern region on the Mediterranean, passing landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona and the city's Camp Nou football stadium.

(JOSEP LAGO - AFP/Getty Images)
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Catalans link arms in a bid to create a 250-mile human chain, part of a campaign for independence from Spain during Catalonia National Day, or Diada, in front of the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona, on September 11, 2013. Independence-seeking Catalans marshalled their forces today to make a human link they say will stretch across 86 cities, towns and villages along the coast of the northeastern region on the Mediterranean, passing landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona and the city's Camp Nou football stadium.

(LLUIS GENE - AFP/Getty Images)
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Catalans gather in a bid to create a 250-mile human chain, part of a campaign for independence from Spain during Catalonia National Day, or Diada, on Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, on September 11, 2013. Independence-seeking Catalans marshalled their forces today to make a human link they say will stretch across 86 cities, towns and villages along the coast of the northeastern region on the Mediterranean, passing landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona and the city's Camp Nou football stadium.

(JOSEP LAGO - AFP/Getty Images)
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Catalans gather in a bid to create a 250-mile human chain, part of a campaign for independence from Spain during Catalonia National Day, or Diada, on Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, on September 11, 2013. Independence-seeking Catalans marshalled their forces today to make a human link they say will stretch across 86 cities, towns and villages along the coast of the northeastern region on the Mediterranean, passing landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona and the city's Camp Nou football stadium.

(QUIQUE GARCIA - AFP/Getty Images)
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A dog sports Catalonia's flag "Estelada" around its neck during celebrations for Catalonia National Day, or Diada, in Barcelona on September 11, 2013.

(JOSEP LAGO - AFP/Getty Images)
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Catalans gather in a bid to create a 250-mile human chain, part of a campaign for independence from Spain during Catalonia National Day, or Diada, on Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, on September 11, 2013. Independence-seeking Catalans marshalled their forces today to make a human link they say will stretch across 86 cities, towns and villages along the coast of the northeastern region on the Mediterranean, passing landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona and the city's Camp Nou football stadium.

(JOSEP LAGO - AFP/Getty Images)
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Catalans gather in a bid to create a 250-mile human chain, part of a campaign for independence from Spain during Catalonia National Day, or Diada, on Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, on September 11, 2013. Independence-seeking Catalans marshalled their forces today to make a human link they say will stretch across 86 cities, towns and villages along the coast of the northeastern region on the Mediterranean, passing landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona and the city's Camp Nou football stadium.

(JOSEP LAGO - AFP/Getty Images)
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Catalans gather to create a 250-mile human chain, part of a campaign for independence from Spain during Catalonia National Day, or Diada, at the Pasea de Gracia in Barcelona, on September 11, 2013. Independence-seeking Catalans marshalled their forces today to make a human link they say will stretch across 86 cities, towns and villages along the coast of the northeastern region on the Mediterranean, passing landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona and the city's Camp Nou football stadium.

(JOSEP LAGO - AFP/Getty Images)
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Demonstrators march during The National Day of Catalonia on September 11, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. Thousands of Catalans celebrating the 'Diada Nacional' are holding demonstrations to demand the right to hold a self-determination referendum next year.

(David Ramos - AFP/Getty Images)
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It's a lovely thing when shared traditions unite so many different people.
Organizers will now submit their claim for a new record to Guinness World Records, which is expected to rule on it within two months.