SHARE
COPY LINK

PROTESTS

IN PICS: ‘Freedom marchers’ from across Catalonia converge on Barcelona

Barcelona came to a stand still on Friday as tens of thousands of "freedom marchers" converged on Barcelona for a mass show of dissent over the jailing of nine Catalan separatist leaders.

IN PICS: 'Freedom marchers' from across Catalonia converge on Barcelona
Photos: AFP

With the angry demonstrations entering their fifth day, activists blocked a string of roads in the wealthy northeastern region, cutting off the main cross-border highway with France.

Workers were also downing tools against Monday's Supreme Court verdict in which the separatist leaders were handed long jail terms over a banned referendum and an abortive independence declaration two years ago.

As well as the strike, tens of thousands of people streamed into Barcelona after a three-day march from five Catalan towns in a bid to cause chaos on the roads in a region that accounts for about a fifth of Spain's economic output.   

They were due to gather for yet another massive demonstration — expected to be the largest yet.

By early afternoon, thousands of striking students were marching through the city, waving signs reading: “We the people will not yield” and “Free the political prisoners”.

 

READ MORE: 

“We have to push a bit more and we'll get what we want,” said 18-year-old Miquel Flores, a nursing student, referring to a referendum on independence.   

“The strength of the Catalan people is unstoppable.”   

The huge turnout came after yet another night of violent clashes, which Catalan regional interior minister Miquel Buch said involved “fewer incidents, but more violent”.

“The criminal and violent behaviour we've seen in Barcelona is intolerable,” he said, insisting such unrest had “nothing to do with the separatist claim”.

And Barcelona city council said the first three days of clashes had cost an estimated €1,575,000 ($1,755,000) in damage, without taking into account Thursday's  vandalism.   

So far, more than 700 large wheelie bins have been torched, while mob violence had also damaged traffic lights, street signs, trees and the city's bike-share service, it said.

 

READ MORE: 

Catalonia: Who are 'urban guerillas' behind the protests?

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

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.

SHOW COMMENTS