Nearly 300 police injured in Catalan protests: Madrid

Nearly 300 police were injured in the violent protests which erupted across Catalonia following the jailing of nine Catalan separatist leaders earlier this month, the Spanish government said Friday.

Nearly 300 police injured in Catalan protests: Madrid
Photo: AFP

A total of 289 police officers were injured in the clashes, including 154from Catalonia's regional police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa told a news conference following a weekly cabinet meeting.

Catalonia's regional emergency services had previously said they had treated 593 people injured in the protests between October 14th and 20th, including 226 police officers.

The latest toll for the number of injured police is higher because some officers were treated in private clinics, a spokesman for the interior ministry said.

A powerful grassroots separatist organisation, ANC, said Wednesday that according to Catalonia's regional health department, 579 people were injured by “police violence” in the protests.

Celaa said over 200 people were arrested during the protests. Of these, 134 adults and 15 minors have appeared before a judge and 31 were sent to jail. Of the 15 minors, 14 were released on probation and one was placed in a juvenile detention centre.

The streets of Barcelona and other Catalan cities were rocked by demonstrations for several days after Spain's Supreme Court on October 14th sentenced the nine leaders, mostly former members of the Catalan regional government, to prison terms of up to 13 years for sedition over a failed 2017 independence bid.

Demonstrators set fire to cars and garbage bins and threw rocks, Molotov cocktails and steel balls at police, who responded with batons and rubber bullets.

READ ALSO: Crisis in Catalonia: Barcelona braced for new wave of protests

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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.