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Spain Celebrates National Day Despite Catalan Crisis


It's National Day in Spain, and the holiday comes at an awkward time. The country is going through its worst political crisis in decades. The government has given the separatist leader of Catalonia an ultimatum - drop the independence push or lose even more autonomy. Lauren Frayer reports from the Catalan capital Barcelona, where the holiday brings mixed feelings.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: It's the Spanish version of Columbus Day - El Dia de la Hispanidad, the day of being Spanish, when Christopher Columbus brought Spanish language and culture to the Americas. Nationwide, it's a day off work and school. But for Catalans like Ivan Hernan Vaquero, who voted on October 1 to secede from Spain, the holiday brings no joy.

IVAN HERNAN VAQUERO: 12 October is National Day of Spain. I don't have anything to celebrate because it's not my day. We are living in very difficult moments for the people who live in Catalan, yeah?

FRAYER: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told Parliament last night, all Spaniards are in a state of restlessness and anxiety...



FRAYER: ...Over the possible breakup of their country. Rajoy has given Catalonia's separatist leader, Carles Puigdemont, until Monday to clarify whether he has already declared independence or not, and until Thursday, to reverse himself if he has or be deposed by Madrid.


RAJOY: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: "It's time to put an end to this rupture," Rajoy said. Today, he'll preside over a huge military parade in Madrid alongside the Spanish royals. Here in Catalonia, rival rallies are scheduled by those who want to stay Spanish and those who want independence. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Barcelona.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRIO ELF'S "746") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.