Protesters and police clashed late yesterday in Barcelona during rallies against the jailing of nine Catalan separatist leaders, with the unusually tense confrontations turning into a major challenge for Spanish and regional authorities.
Esta es mi ciudad #Barcelona , delante de mi lugar de trabajo. Ahora mismo huele a humo y a miedo. Yo que siempre he denunciado la violencia en países lejanos geográficamente pero cercanos de corazón, nunca pensé que lo haría hoy tan cerca. Duele? Erika Torregrossa (@ErikaTorregrosa) October 15, 2019
Protesters threw cans, stones and flares at riot police, and set garbage containers and cardboard on fire in the middle of several streets in Barcelona, including a thoroughfare housing designer stores and the stock exchange.
@Europol @EU_Commission @Interpol Not good comming to #Barcelona? Alberto (@WasZoquete) October 16, 2019
The former president of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont, wanted by the Spanish Justice, is still hiding in #Brussels. Mayor Barcelona and the Government of Catalonia, have promoted these attacks, are responsible https://t.co/jrHUDFFs9G
Fences were on fire next to La Pedrera, one of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi's most famous buildings and one of the city's main tourist attractions.
Police charged several times through the crowd with batons and fired foam projectiles at the protesters. A spokesman for the regional Mossos police said they were trying to make space around the local headquarters of the Spanish government. Four people were detained, the spokesman said.
Noticia jurídica del día @LaVanguardia: '?? Brutal incendio en una de las calles colindantes a Passeig de Gràcia en #Barcelona.? Noticias Jurídicas (@DeIureNoticias) October 16, 2019
Un grupo de manifestantes ha incendiado contenedores para barrar el paso a los agentes de? pic.twitter.com/3BnP93HE2r, see more https://t.co/aZ4oMRLcbL
A Reuters cameraman was hit by police in the leg while filming them charge at protesters. The cameraman, clearly identified as a journalist by a press armband, was hit from behind by a police baton.
This was the second day of protests after the Supreme Court sentenced nine separatist leaders to nine to 13 years in jail over their role in a failed bid to break away from Spain in 2017.
The clashes are a challenge for the regional, pro-independence authorities and the central government in Madrid, both of which are facing a fragmented political landscape and an economic slowdown.
Just watched rows of police run up the main parade in Barcelona shooting rubber bullets into crowds of people at a candle vigil for the Catalan prisoners. Turned the situation into a scary and violent one instantly. Now thousands running from the police in every direction. pic.twitter.com/PfN4eg9KEb? Jean Mackenzie (@jeanmackenzie) October 15, 2019
Catalan separatism has long prided itself on being a peaceful movement and its leaders say that has not changed.
But there were concerns in Madrid already before Monday's Supreme Court ruling that heavy jail sentences for the separatist leaders could unleash pent-up frustration among a radicalised fringe, a senior parliamentary source told Reuters.
A spokeswoman for the pro-independence Catalan regional government was quick to say that separatists had proven they were peaceful and that an isolated group behaved violently, sullying their reputation.
"The regional government condemns all violent actions as we always have done," spokeswoman Meritxell Budo told Spanish national broadcaster TVE.
Spain's acting government warned in a statement it would step in if needed to guarantee security in the region, without elaborating.
"A minority is trying to impose violence in the streets of Catalan cities," the statement said. "It is obvious that this is not a peaceful movement," the government said, while praising coordination between regional and national police
Let the #world see it: the ?? #Spanish police try to run over protesters in #Barcelona. Here is the real violence. The state is already looking for dead. The images speak for themselves. #SpainIsAFascitState@UN@UNHumanRights@Europarl_EN#Europeanpic.twitter.com/uLZuzYPvly? Toni ?? (@Toninommm) October 16, 2019
Catalonia's independence drive triggered Spain's biggest political crisis in decades in 2017 and still dominates much of the country's fractured political debate. It was a major theme in a parliamentary election in April and will likely be as well for the new, snap election set for Nov. 10.
The leader of Spain's centre-right People's Party, Pablo Casado, on Twitter called for acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to activate a national security law and take control of Catalonia's security forces to "guarantee security and public order".
Spain's main parties have consistently refused to hold an independence referendum in Catalonia, although the Socialists say they are open to dialogue on other issues.
Police also charged protesters in the cities of Girona and Tarragona, TV footage showed. Catalan police warned people on Twitter not to approach the epicentre of protests in Barcelona and Girona for safety reasons.
Reuters reporters saw Spanish national police firing blanks in the air from rubber bullet guns in Barcelona. Police could not immediately be reached for comment.
Earlier in the evening, thousands of peaceful demonstrators had taken to the streets of the regional capital. Some lit candles and chanted "Freedom for political prisoners".
Pro-independence leaders have vowed to keep pushing for a new referendum on secession, saying Monday's prison sentences strengthened the movement.
Oriol Junqueras, who was given the longest sentence of 13 years for his role in organising the 2017 referendum which was ruled illegal, told Reuters in his first interview after the sentence that it would only galvanize the independence movement.
"We're not going to stop thinking what we think, ideals can't be derailed by (jail) sentences," he said, adding that a new plebiscite was "inevitable".
Demonstrators had blocked railways on Monday and thousands descended on Barcelona's international airport, where some clashed with police. An airport spokesman said 110 flights were cancelled on Monday and 45 more were cancelled yesterday.
Diana Riba, wife of convicted leader Raul Romeva, told Reuters the independence drive would prevail over time.
"This is a very long process, but we will see results as we did with the feminist movement, how they grew until becoming massive and achieving the rights that they were seeking,» she said, calling for «everyone to take to the streets".
The content of comment is the opinion of users and netizens and not of mallorcadailybulletin.com.
Comments contrary to laws, which are libellous, illegal or harmful to others are not permitted');
mallorcadailybulletin.com - reserves the right to remove any inappropriate comments.
Please remember that you are responsible for everything that you write and that data which are legally required can be made available to the relevant public authorities and courts; these data being name, email, IP of your computer as well as information accessible through the systems.