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PROTESTS

IN PICS: Dozens injured in clashes outside Barcelona’s Camp Nou during El Clasico

Masked protesters set bins on fire and threw rocks and glass bottles at police who responded with foam bullets in a street near Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium as Barcelona and Real Madrid faced off Wednesday in the first Clasico of the season.

IN PICS: Dozens injured in clashes outside Barcelona's Camp Nou during El Clasico
Disturbances outside Camp Nou Stadium led to dozens of injuries and arrests. Photos: AFP

Forty-six people were lightly injured in the clashes, including eight who needed to be taken to hospital for extra care, local emergency services said.    

Nine people were arrested, Catalonia's regional police force said. They face charges of affront to authority and causing public disorder.   

The protesters, many of them carrying Catalan separatist flags, began setting up barricades in the middle of the street, which they then set on fire after police arrived in dozens of vans, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.   

Demonstrators rocked a police van and took down street signs that they added to the barricade, while some people sought shelter inside a bar.    

Calm returned to the street as fans began to leave the stadium at the end of the match, which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Police closed the south exits of the stadium leading to the street where the clashes took place and asked fans to leave the venue through the north exits for “security reasons”.   

These were the first violent incidents in Catalonia since October when Spain's top court jailed nine Catalan separatist leaders over their role in a failed 2017 bid for independence, triggering days of protests that sometimes ended in clashes with police.  

The original fixture in October had to be postponed due to the violent demonstrations across the wealthy northeastern region.    

Inside the stadium thousands of fans held up blue banners with the words 'Spain, sit and talk' which were given to supporters outside the grounds and also carried the words, 'Freedom, rights, self-determination', as well as the slogan of Democratic Tsunami, the protest group promoting the cause of Catalan independence that organised the demonstration.   

Protesters had begun gathering at the four corners of the stadium, blocking traffic, four hours before kick-off. Nearly 5,000 people surrounded the stadium, according to police.

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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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