Catalonia burns after heavy jail terms in Spain
Protesters have attacked government buildings, blocked streets and train tracks and battled with Spanish police in the second day of unrest in the Catalan cities of Barcelona, Tarragona, Girona and Lerida.
On Monday, the Spanish Supreme Court handed down sentences totalling about 100 years to nine separatist leaders who tried to force a break from Spain in late 2017.
Following the sentencing on Monday, the Catalan “Committees for the Defence of the Republic” (CDR) vowed direct action, including the blocking of roads and railway lines. It tweeted: “It is time to rise up against the authoritarian fascism of the Spanish state and its accomplices. It is time for the #PopularRevolt.”
The first day of protests focused on Barcelona airport, which said 110 flights were cancelled on Monday and 45 more were abandoned on Tuesday.
The violence has since spread with the police issuing warnings to stay away from trouble spots.
The Madrid government condemned the violence, saying Catalan separatism was “not a peaceful movement” and pledging to guarantee security for the region.
It said, “a minority is trying to impose violence in the streets of Catalan cities”.
“It is evident that what we’re facing is not a peaceful movement, but one orchestrated by groups using street violence to destroy coexistence in Catalonia,” the Madrid authorities announced.
Pere Aragones, the vice president of the pro-independence Catalan government, appealed to protesters on Twitter to show restraint. He said protesters should not give the authorities an excuse to impose direct rule.
Protesters threw stones and flares at riot police, setting bins and cardboard on fire along streets in Barcelona.
Activists blocked off government offices in several Catalan cities, with around 40,000 people taking part in Barcelona and 9,000 in the separatist stronghold of Girona, the police said.
Diana Riba, the wife of convicted leader Raul Romeva, said the independence movement would eventually win.
“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. Riba called for “everyone to take to the streets”.
The pro-independence Catalan regional government said separatists were peaceful and only an isolated group used violence.
“The regional government condemns all violent actions as we always have done,” Catalan government spokeswoman Meritxell Budo told broadcaster TVE.
This week’s violence. Picture credit: YouTube