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PROTESTS

French tourist died at airport blockade during Barcelona protests

A 65-year-old French tourist suffered a heart attack and died after being forced to walk 4km to reach the Barcelona airport during protests staged against the jailing of Catalan separatist leaders, it has emerged.

French tourist died at airport blockade during Barcelona protests
Protesers barracaded the airport in Barcelona on Monday. Photo: AFP

The tourist was attempting to reach Terminal 2 to fly home when he was caught up in the demonstrations which saw the airport blockaded on Monday afternoon.

Transport was cut off to the airport and roads around El Prat were blocked after Tsunami Democrátic used social media to mobilized protesters to focus on the airport.

The man and his wife were among the thousands of travellers caught up in the demonstrations.

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Protesters blocked the roads to the airport on Monday. Photo: AFP

Health authorities have revealed that the man collapsed in the parking area of Terminal 2 after trekking 4km with his wife to reach the airport.

The Frenchman was found by a member of airline staff who alerted emergency services at the airport and they attempt to keep him alive using a defibrillator until he could be airlifted to the nearest hospital, according to sources quoted by Europa Press.

Health authorities confirmed that he had later died in nearby Bellvitge Hospital.

Scores of people have been hurt and dozens arrested in the past two nightsof clashes between protesters and police in Barcelona and other Catalan cities.    

One protester lost his eye on Monday after being shot at by police using rubber bullets to control the crowds

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez heldemergency talks with opposition leaders on Wednesday about violent protests by separatists in Catalonia.

In a tweet, Sanchez said the government “firmly and resoundingly condemnsthe violence that seeks to break co-existence in Catalonia.”   

 

Sanchez received conservative opposition leader Pablo Casado of the Popular Party on Wednesday morning.   

He was scheduled to meet later with the leaders of centre-right Ciudadanosand far-left Podemos.   

He said he would “convey the government's determination to guarantee security, with firmness, proportionality and unity.”

In Barcelona on Tuesday night, police charged hundreds of masked demonstrators who threw projectiles at officers and set garbage bins and cardboard boxes on fire.

On Wednesday thousands of protesters departed on foot along highways fromfive Catalan towns towards Barcelona.   

They planned to gather there on Friday, when unions have called a general strike in the region.   

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ENVIRONMENT

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.

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