Pedro Sánchez calls for unity as Spain celebrates National Day

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called for unity as the country celebrates its national day.

In a tweet, the Socialist leader expressed hope that Spanish citizens would celebrate “commitment, solidarity, cooperation, multilateralism”.

“Let us claim what unites us, what makes us great as a society, what makes Spain a welcoming, open, diverse country … Let us celebrate what we are,” he said.

A grand military parade of more than 2,600 troops was held in Madrid on Tuesday in front of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia.

The parade along the flag-lined Paseo de la Castellana also featured dozens of aircraft flying overhead and a 21-gun salute.

But protests were also held against the Dia de la Fiesta Nacional (also known as Dia de la Hispanidad), while some booed Sánchez as he arrived at the parade.

Some Spanish citizens see the public holiday as a misguided celebration of colonial history, marking the day when explorer Christopher Columbus sighted land while travelling under Spanish royal sponsorship.

The centuries-long colonisation of the Americas by European nations brought violence, disease, and death to indigenous people.

But a 1987 law made October 12 a national holiday in Spain to commemorate “the linguistic and cultural projection of Spain outside of its European limits”.

But protests in Spain were also held on Tuesday in favour of abolishing the Spanish monarchy, and other causes.

Regional officials in the Catalonia region also marked the day with fresh calls for independence.

Last year’s National Day festivities in Spain were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, also posted a message of support on Twitter, wishing Spain a “great day”.


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