Half a million people marched through the streets of Barcelona on Friday to protest the prison sentences imposed on leaders
for their role in the secession attempt of 2017, announced the municipal police.
The demonstrations, marked by the violence, follow one another for a week in Spain against
the sentences of 9 to 13 years' imprisonment imposed on nine separatists including several members of the former regional government dismissed after the secession aborted. This Friday, day of general strike, 525,000 people, Wednesday parties of five cities in the region, converged in the city for this monster event.
Closed monuments, cut roads, deferred matches and factories at a standstill
On the fifth day of protests against the heavy sentences of nine to 13 years imprisonment imposed Monday to their leaders for the 2017 secession attempt, the separatists also organized a general strike whose effects were evident in the city and in this rich region weighing one fifth of Spain's GDP. In Barcelona, the famous Basilica of the Sagrada Familia had to close its doors while the opera Liceu canceled its performance on Friday. Most of the stands of the Boqueria market, very popular with tourists, and many shops were closed.
According to the authorities, 57 flights were canceled at the airport, while several roads were cut, including the AP7 motorway leading to France. Car maker Seat shut down its Martorell plant near Barcelona which employs more than 6,500 people. The unrest in Catalonia also resulted in the football federation reporting the October 26 "Clasico" between Barça and Real Madrid, one of the most watched matches on the planet. The clubs will have to fix the new date of the meeting.
Right calls for exceptional measures to restore order
This day of mobilization was preceded by a new night of violence in Barcelona. Hundreds of young people erected fiery barricades on Thursday night and threw molotov cocktails at security forces, who responded by firing foam bullets.
Tuesday and Wednesday, this city had already experienced these scenes of urban guerrilla after first clashes Monday at the time of the blockade of the airport by some 10,000 protesters. According to the police, more than 110 people have been arrested since the beginning of the week, including 16 on Thursday night.
Born out of the frustration of part of the separatist base two years after the failed secession attempt of 2017, this violence marked a turning point for the separatist movement, which has always boasted of being non-violent. With less than a month of the fourth general election in four years in Spain, these troubles have put the government of the Socialist Pedro Sanchez under pressure from the right that calls for exceptional measures to restore order. In Catalonia, the question of independence divides. According to a survey released in July by the regional government, 44% of the population is in favor and 48.3% opposed.