SHARE
COPY LINK

CATALONIA

Protests in Catalonia after independence leaders held

Thousands of protesters descended on the streets of Catalonia late Friday after Spain's supreme court detained five separatist leaders for their role in last year's independence bid.

Protests in Catalonia after independence leaders held
Photo: AFP

The court also issued international arrest warrants for six other Catalan figures who have fled abroad, including former regional president Carles Puigdemont.

Twenty-four protesters were lightly injured in clashes with police, emergency services said.

Riot police used batons to keep the demonstrators away from the federal government offices in Barcelona.

The protest had been called on Thursday, by the radical Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), before the court decisions were announced.

Spain's Supreme Court said Friday it would prosecute 13 key Catalan separatists for “rebellion”, a crime which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in jail.

Five people were held in custody, including Catalan presidential candidate Jordi Turull who was due Saturday to seek a second round vote in the regional parliament, after failing to be elected earlier in the week.

A Supreme Court judge held former Catalan parliament president Carme Forcadell and three former regional ministers alongside Turull.

Judge Pablo Llarena decided that the five posed a flight risk, after Marta Rovira became the latest leading pro-independence figure to flee abroad to escape charges.

Rovira ignored the summons and announced she was taking “the road to exile”.

The deputy leader of the leftwing separatist ERC party, whose chief is currently in jail, is currently in Switzerland, according to Spanish media.

Llarena also issued international arrest warrants for former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Belgium along with four of his former ministers.

All five left Spain following a proclamation of independence for Catalonia in October. One of them, Clara Ponsati, has since moved on to Scotland.

Four other separatists had already been detained by the Spanish authorities.

In total 25 people, the core of the movement, have been indicted over last year's independence drive.

The court decisions further inflamed the protesters in Barcelona, some of whom burnt pictures of King Felipe VI, a crime in Spain, as well as photos of judge Llarena.

They waved separatist flags and chanted “Freedom for the political prisoners”.

Another, calmer, rally filled the huge Plaça de Catalunya in central Barcelona.

“Catalonia has never felt like part of Spain,” said 22-year old Alba Mateu, one of the demonstrators.

“There are two million people who want to leave Spain and they can't put us all in prison,” his 58-year-old mother Carme Sala added.

Catalan television aired footage of more crowds in towns in the region, including Vic and Tarragona.

The judicial action in recent weeks has hit the Catalan independence movement, with some of its main players giving up their public roles while others have toned down their rhetoric.

Judge Llarena, in announcing his ruling, cited injuries to sixty Spanish policemen who had attempted to prevent an independence referendum from going ahead in Catalonia on October 1st.

Llarena said he considered that the current “attack on the State” was of a “gravity .. without comparison in neighbouring democracies”.

The crisis was sparked by a referendum, banned by Madrid, which led to the declaration of independence.

That declaration then led to the Spanish authorities imposing direct rule over the region, a situation which has so far lasted five months with Catalonia's autonomy suspended.

In his 70-page ruling Llarena set out the reasons for the rebellion charges which imply the existence of a “violent uprising”, which some jurists contest.

The supreme court judge did not mention the treatment meted out by police on voters queueing by polling stations, images of which were flashed around the world.

The separatist parties won regional elections in December called by Madrid after they attempted to secede, retaining their absolute majority in parliament.

But they have still not been able to form a government and face growing legal pressures.

With numerous leaders abroad or in jail, the separatists have struggled to re-organise or even remain in politics. Three more members of the parliament announced Thursday they were giving up their seats.

In a broad alliance swinging from centre-right to far left, the separatists failed to elect a new regional president on Thursday after their most radical faction refused to back Turull in a vote of confidence.

A second round parliamentary vote was due to take place Saturday.

READ ALSO: Catalan separatists face rebellion charge as another key figure flees abroad

For members

CATALONIA

14 Barcelona life hacks that will make you feel like a local

Barcelona is a popular city for foreign residents in Spain thanks to its coastal location, many international companies and great lifestyle. However, navigating life here can take some getting used to, so here are our top Barcelona life hacks to help make things easier for you.

14 Barcelona life hacks that will make you feel like a local
Barcelona life hacks. Image: Michal Jarmoluk / Pixabay

Invest in a good water filter

Barcelona tap water doesn’t taste the best, particularly in the areas around the Old Town such as El Born, the Gothic Quarter, Barceloneta and Raval. The water is also very hard, meaning that it leaves limescale on appliances such as your kettle.

Using a good water filter can improve the taste and make sure that limescale doesn’t build up. It’s also much more economical and healthier than buying bottled water every time you want a drink.

Use the Rodalies trains to get across the city faster

Many people when they first move to Barcelona just use the metro and don’t bother using the Rodalies trains. While it’s not always necessary, for certain journeys it can make getting across the city much faster.

For example, if you need to get from Sant Andreu or Clot to Sants to connect to one of the intercity trains, it’s only two or three stops on the Rodalies, as opposed to more than 10 on the metro, as well as changing to different lines.

Don’t try and get anything important done in August

This is probably true of most of Spain, but if you need to get anything important done, whether official paperwork or renovations on your apartment, don’t try and get them done in August.

The whole city goes on holiday for the month of August, including office personnel, builders and handypeople. If you need to get any of this done, it’s best to get it done before the holidays or to wait until September.  

Don’t buy drinks from sellers on the beach or in the park

You’ll find many people selling drinks on the city’s beaches and in the main Ciutadella Park. While it can be tempting to buy these, especially when it’s so hot, you need to be aware that these cans of drinks are often stored inside drains or under manhole covers, meaning that they’re not the cleanest.

A few years ago, El País took the mojitos sold by hawkers on the beaches to a local lab. The results came back a few days later to show that they contained high levels of fecal matter and bacteria in them.

Barcelona’s Chinese supermarkets are a great source of ingredients

Although you can now find many more foreign ingredients in local supermarkets than you could just a few years ago, there are still many that you may miss from back home, particularly South East Asian and Indian ingredients.

Barcelona has several excellent Chinese supermarkets, where you can find a range of ingredients, everything from sesame oil and Thai curry paste to Indian spices and affordable peanut butter.

Don’t take valuables out with you to certain areas, particularly at night

Unfortunately, bag snatchings and pickpockets are still commonplace in Barcelona. While the thieves mainly target tourists, foreign residents often find that they are targets too.

The trick is to blend in like a local, look like you know where you’re going and don’t take valuables with you to areas such as the Gothic Quarter, Raval or the Rambla, especially at night. Bag snatchings in El Born have also increased in recent years, so keep your wits about you around there too. 

Find your favourite beach outside of the city

Barcelona’s beaches may have been one of your prime reasons for moving here, but you’ll find that you actually prefer the beaches outside of the city.

Overcrowded, dangerous and a lot dirtier than other beaches in the area, the beaches in Barcelona are unfortunately not all that they’re cracked up to be. You’ll often find that after you’ve been for a swim, your valuables will not still be on the sand where you left them. Head just 15 to 20 minutes outside of the city however and you’ll find the beaches are far nicer and safer.

Find a beach outside of the city centre to go to. Photo: makunin /Pixabay

Try to join several different clubs or groups

Barcelona is a very transient city, meaning that people are moving here and leaving all the time. As a result, you’ll often find that most of the friends you made when first moving here have now moved away and you’ll constantly need to make more. If you join several clubs and groups, you’ll find that making new friends all the time is a lot easier. 

Don’t buy a single transport ticket

It’s never really worth buying a single transport ticket in Barcelona, because you’ll end up spending much more money per journey than you would if you bought the T-Casual (10 journeys) or the monthly T-Usual metro card instead.

You can also buy 10-journey bono tickets for the Rodalies trains, which will also save a lot of money if you’re making regular journeys out of the city. 

Try and avoid shopping at Port del Angel on Saturdays

Port del Angel is Barcelona’s main pedestrianised shopping street. While it’s great and has all the high-street fashion shops you want, it can be a nightmare shopping here on Saturdays.

If you do need to shop on a Saturday, try Rambla Catalunya or one of the shopping malls instead, which won’t be so crowded.

Be prepared for festivals and events

Barcelona holds so many festivals and events that it can be hard to keep up. In normal (non-Covid) years, there is one every other week.

Because of this tickets sell out quickly and there are many fun cultural events that you might miss out on. Keep your calendar up to date, so you know what’s going on, and make sure to book tickets for anything you want to see, well in advance. 

Tipping isn’t necessary at all bars and restaurants

Tipping isn’t all that common in Barcelona, unless perhaps if it’s a particularly nice restaurant or if there’s a large group of you that the waiter has had to look after.

You’ll find that it’s not expected either, except maybe at some of the city’s very touristy restaurants.  

READ ALSO: Why do Catalans have a reputation for being stingy?

Do lots of research before renting an apartment and if it sounds too good to be true, then it is

Unfortunately, there are lots of property scams in Barcelona, so try and do as much research as you can beforehand. Never pay money upfront before you’ve seen the property and received the keys.

Also, be aware that many landlords will not return your deposit at the end of your stay.

Many people get around this by not paying the last month’s rent, but this can also make things difficult for the good landlords who may genuinely need to deduct something for damages, so speak with your estate agency on the best thing to do in this situation.

READ ALSO: What you should know about renting an apartment in Barcelona

Hire a gestor or lawyer to help with immigration and tax issues

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and hassle with immigration and tax issues if you hire a professional to help you in Barcelona, where getting a cita previa (appointment) for official matters can often be difficult, in part because these law firms often bulk book them.

However, there are certain processes that you won’t need an immigration lawyer for such as getting a residency certificate if you’re from an EU country or exchanging your green residency certificate for a TIE if you are British and moved here before the end of 2020.

READ ALSO: BREXIT: How to apply for a TIE residency card in Spain

SHOW COMMENTS