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There are yellow ribbons all over northeast Spain. Here's what they mean.

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BARCELONA, Spain (Circa) – Travelers visiting northeast Spain will likely notice yellow ribbons everywhere they go in cities like Barcelona and Girona. It’s not an insignificant decoration. These ribbons are a modern political statement about a movement that dates back decades.

Circa staffers spotted those ribbons on a recent trip to the Catalan region of Spain. They were hanging from balconies in the coastal town of Tossa de Mar, tied to the bars of the famous Eiffel Bridge in the medieval city of Girona, and even visible from the top of one of the country’s most famous cathedrals, La Sagrada Familia.

The ribbons are tied to a movement to make Catalonia independent from Spain. The effort is not new, dating back almost 100 years. But the call for independence was reignited recently after a referendum was declared illegal by Spain.

While the ribbons are a symbol of the movement, locals told Circa they also represent solidarity with four political prisoners who were arrested and jailed for their involvement with the independence movement and still remain behind bars.

The effort of the ribbons made headlines earlier this year in the world of sports. Catalan native Pep Guardiola, took heat this spring for sporting a yellow ribbon on the sidelines of games with Manchester City, the team he coaches. Guardiola was fined by the Football Association (FA) for making a political statement. He told reporters he would give up wearing the ribbon if it hurts his team.

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