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WATCH: French riot police clear Catalan protesters at highway blockade on border with Spain

UPDATED: Riot squads from the French Gendarme moved in to clear the highway linking France and Spain at La Jonquera border on Tuesday morning, dragging protesters from their camps and firing tear gas.

WATCH: French riot police clear Catalan protesters at highway blockade on border with Spain
Protesters have blocked traffic on the main road between France and Spain. Photos: AFP

A joint police operation by forces either side of the border cleared protesters from the road as the blockade entered its second day. 

“There are no more demonstrators on the highway,” a spokeswoman for the security department of the eastern French Pyrenees said, adding that no-one had been hurt and the motorway was expected to reopen on Tuesday afternoon.   

A reported 19 people were arrested in total, one in Spain and 18 on the French side of the border.

As day broke on the second day of protest mobilised by Tsunami Democratic, the French police force took action to clear the busy border crossing where the AP7 joins France’s A9 dismantling a field kitchen set up by protesters.

Footage posted on Twitter shows the action when police moved in at 8am on Tuesday.

 

French police began the operation to clear the highway on the French side, firing canisters of tear gas to disperse the crowds who had camped out overnight and were singing protests songs around burning braziers.  

The protest is the latest action against the sentencing last month of nine of Catalan separatist leaders to lengthy jail terms and was called to block traffic at the border over a three-day period ending Wednesday night.

“This mobilisation is a cry to the international community so that it makes the Spanish state understand that the only possible path is to sit down and talk,” Tsunami Democratic said in a message to its followers on encrypted messaging service Telegram.

Several hundred people had gathered there, setting up a stage, camp and kitchen.

Although police managed to reopen the AP-7 in the direction of France, protests were still causing flare ups and congestion on roads in the area, including the N-11.

 

 


Protesters hold up signs declaring “All To La Jonquera”. Photo: 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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