The first great demonstrations after the death of Franco took place on Sundays 1 and 8 February 1976. In several parts of the city, the people took to the street chanting “Freedom, Amnesty, Statute of Autonomy”. One point where particularly large numbers of demonstrators assembled was Passeig de Sant Joan, where the police made their most violent baton charges.
A few months after the death of Franco, a large number of civil society organisations, led by the Federation of Residents’ Associations of Barcelona (FAVB), decided to take to the streets to demand that the government of Arias Navarro should embark on a real process towards democracy. On 1 February 1976, a demonstration was called to demand amnesty for political prisoners, whilst the following Sunday another march was held to call for the restoration of Catalonia’s political rights and national freedoms.
Although these demonstrations were banned by the authorities, citizens assembled in huge numbers to take part in the first demonstration, which was to begin at what is now Passeig de Lluís Companys (then Víctor Pradera). This led to police charges against pedestrians in that area. Word was then passed that the rally would take place at the crossroads of Travessera de Gràcia and Passeig de Sant Joan (then General Mola). According to reports from the time, between 4,000 and 12,000 people gathered at that point at around 11 am. The crowd marched to Carrer de Rosselló, where a large contingent of police forces awaited. The demonstrators sat down on the ground to show their pacifism, but the police charged nevertheless, with batons, rubber bullets and smoke bombs, and the crowd dispersed to other points in the city. Several photographers captured the charge on their cameras, producing images that now comprise historic documents.
At the demonstration on the following Sunday, February 8, confrontations with the police also took place at different points in the city and Passeig de Sant Joan was once more the scene of disturbances, with many people arrested and injured. However, Government repression did not weaken the democratic cause, but strengthened it. Over the following weeks, more and more sectors went on strike and many local authorities and organisations joined the call for amnesty. However, it was not until Adolfo Suárez was appointed as president that the first signs of opening up were seen: on 14 October 1977, the first democratically-elected Parliament finally approved plans to grant an amnesty.
Address: Passeig de Sant Joan || Coordinates: (LAT, LONG): 41.404451205, 2.162858104