Theater on the eve of new clashes between protesters and police officers – of which calcined asphalt and broken windows testify – the chic avenue of Paseo de Gracia was drowned under a human tide yellow, red and blue, the colors of the independence flag, Friday 18 October, day of general strike.
Sagrada Familia, canceled flights, Clasico reported …
With the slogan "Freedom", columns of tens of thousands of separatists – 525,000 participants according to police – parties Wednesday, October 16 of five cities in the region, converged in the city for this monster event.
"We have been demanding for years (independence) with a lot of patience and we hope that (this mobilization) will be the trigger for the situation to change"said David Blanco, a 56-year-old commercial agent.
Tension rises in Catalonia and takes Madrid short
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 while the Liceu opera 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 manufacturer Seat has shut down its Martorell plant near Barcelona, which employs over 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.
Urban guerrilla scenes
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.
Catalonia, urban guerrilla scenes in Barcelona after the condemnation of separatists
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.
Friday, the tension remained palpable with a helicopter constantly flying over Barcelona and some clashes between police and activists near a police station.
Government under pressure
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.
From Brussels, Pedro Sanchez replied that the state could not "Not to be dragged into an overreaction", while ensuring that there would be no "No impunity for acts of vandalism".
Violence "Is not justifiable but I can understand it. We have been demonstrating peacefully for a long time, but since there are no results, people are tired. "said Claudia Torrabadella, an 18-year-old student in a nursing school, a separatist flag tied around her neck.
"I am Catalan, Catalan, but I do not share at all this independence project, people let themselves be manipulated and the youth even more", for its part denounced Carmen Isern, 75 years old.
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.
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