Rajoy urges Spain to show its ‘love’ in anti-terror march

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday called on Spaniards to show their "love" for Barcelona and attend a weekend march against terror after last week's deadly attacks.

Rajoy urges Spain to show its 'love' in anti-terror march
Tributes pile up on Las Rambas in Barcelona. Photo: AFP

In unusually warm comments at a time of high tension between Rajoy and separatist leaders in Catalonia where the vehicle rampages took place, he praised the rapid work of the local police and spoke of the state's affection for the region.

The twin vehicle attacks in Catalonia last week — a van rampage in Barcelona and a car attack in the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils — killed 15 people and injured more than 120 others.

Rajoy called on “everyone to participate in tomorrow's protest (Saturday) in Barcelona” against extremism.   

“There, with all of Catalan society and all of Spain… we will once again give a clear message of unity and condemnation of terrorism, and of love for the city of Barcelona,” he said.

Rajoy will join King Felipe VI, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, Catalonia's President Carles Puigdemont and many others at Saturday's march in Barcelona.    

Speaking to reporters, he said the king — Spain's head-of-state — would take part to “express his love for the people of Barcelona, of Cambrils, of Catalonia”.

He also praised the rapid work of the region's Mossos d'Esquadra police squad in dismantling the terror cell behind the attacks.   

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, he said the core nucleus of the terror cell had been “completely disarticulated in just 100 hours.   

“That says a lot about the preparation and ability of the Mossos,” he added, congratulating the Mossos.   

He also extended his praise to the Guardia Civil and Spain's national police, in what appeared to be a bid to ease tensions between the country's security forces.

Earlier this week, the unions of the Guardia Civil and national police complained the Catalan force had left them out of the investigation for political reasons.

It also accused the Mossos of ignoring important information they had about suspects.

In their joint statement, they claimed that Catalonia's separatist executive had left them out in the cold because they wanted to project an image abroad of Catalan self-sufficiency ahead of a planned October 1st referendum on independence.

It is as yet unclear whether the vote will take place, as Madrid has declared it illegal.


Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.