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PROTESTS

IN PICS: Barcelona protests turn violent

The streets of central Barcelona were left strewn with burnt-out debris on Saturday morning after the fifth day of protests descended into a pitched battle with police.

IN PICS: Barcelona protests turn violent

After the Friday's massive but largely peaceful rally in Barcelona, the trouble started when a group of radical separatists began massing around the city's police headquarters.

Riot police responded by charging the protesters, and advancing on them to keep them at a safe distance. 

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Protesters were defiant, however, taunting police and soon after starting to use rubbish bins, street signs, and other street furniture to create a barricade. 

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Protesters set alight plastic bins. 

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

As the protests worsened, Spanish police responded increasingly heavy-handedly, charging protesters, and wielding batons to disperse them. According to the city's emergency services, about 152 people were injured during the clashes. 

Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

By the early evening, a pitched battle had broken out, with protesters huddling behind makeshift barricades, throwing stones and other objects at police. Some were photographed using catapults and flare guns. 

Police fired tear gas to try and disperse the crowd. 

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

Later in the evening, police sent in trucks with water cannons to disperse the crowd and put out some of the fires. 

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

By the time the protests had ended, the centre of the city was strewn with burnt out debris and broken barriers and street furniture.

Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

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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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