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

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

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

A large military parade of more than 2,600 soldiers took place 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 planes flying overhead and a 21-gun salute.

But protests also took place against the Dia de la Fiesta Nacional (also known as Dia de la Hispanidad), with some booing Sánchez as he arrived at the parade.

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

The centuries-old colonization of the Americas by European nations brought violence, disease and death to Indigenous peoples.

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

But protests in Spain also took place on Tuesday in favor of the abolition of the Spanish monarchy, and other causes.

Regional officials from the Catalonia region also marked the day with new calls for independence.

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

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

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euronews Gt

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