Catalan Separatists Continue To Protest And Violence With Police Escalates

In the seventh consecutive night of protests in Barcelona, violent clashes continue to reign in the city and other Catalan cities. In the latest news, Spain’s government refused President of Catalonia Quim Torra’s request to negotiate with the pro-independence movement, and therefore more demonstrations should be expected from the separatist movement this week.

Besides the multiple attempts of people to prevent another violent riot with human barriers between the police and protesters, clashes broke out once more. Burned trash bins, petrol bombs, firecrackers, acid and chunks of pavement are some of the elements rioters have thrown at the police. In the past week, around 150 people have been arrested and more than 500 have been reported injured, according to the Independent and FOX News. 

Police shot rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons at crowds rioting in Barcelona and other cities in Catalonia such as Girona.

Multiple public areas in Barcelona have been damaged, and the city claims it will cost around €1.5 million ($1.7 million) to repair everything. Moreover, the economy is suffering due to the violent riots, which have provoked the cancellation of hundreds of flights, closure of dozens of roads, hundreds of children staying at home, and closed businesses.

Protests erupted on Monday after the Supreme Court of Spain ruled the sentence to jail nine separatist leaders, for between nine to 13 years. Amongst them, Oriol Juqueras, former vice-president of Catalonia sentenced to 13 years of prison, was found guilty of misuse of public funds and sedition. Former Catalan foreign minister Raul Romeva, as well as former Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull, were condemned to 12 years for the same reasons as Juqueras, according to CNN. Carles Puigdemont, former Catalan president, currently resides in Belgium and is wanted by the Spanish authorities for sedition, malversation of public funds, and organizing a referendum in 2017.

In October of 2017, an independence referendum was held in Catalonia, passed by the parliament of Catalonia and banned by the Supreme Court of Spain. National police were deployed to prevent voting and the 43% of the Catalan population who voted chose independence by 90%, as stated by NPR.

The Catalonian separation from Spain is not a new proposal that started with the referendum of 2017. Indeed, dating back to around 1,000 years, the Catalan region has complained about the rest of the country taking advantage of it. Since this region is highly visited by tourists, with Barcelona attracting around 20 million visitors each year, Catalan nationalists complain that the high taxes imposed on the area paid to Madrid, are used to sustain the poorest parts of Spain.

Catalonia has its language, anthem, flag and parliament, is constituted by 7.5 million people, and is the wealthiest region in Spain. Multiple times the region has clashed on separatists protests. However, this year has seen one of the most violent riots recorded.

“The government of Spain reiterates that the problem of Catalonia is not independence, which will not occur because it is not legal and nor do the majority of Catalans want it, but rather coexistence,” said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. 

Sanchez stated there would not be conversations held, as requested by Torra, until the Catalan president condemns the violence occurring in the protests. Sanchez added that Catalans who do not want secession should also be taken into consideration.

Torra said to the press on Friday that the violence witnessed last week did not represent the peaceful nature of the Catalan separatist movement. However, he said a new vote on self-determination is necessary within the next two years, and Catalonia’s government would go as far as its people want them to.

Reporters of EuroNews have found the situation in Barcelona and Hong Kong very similar since both places want independence from Spain and China respectively, and in both places, clashes have gotten to the airports seeking help from the international community. No foreign country has stated its position towards the protests, but its to be expected for this week. This is especially the case after the Catalan protest platform, as documented by El Nacional, Tsunami Democràtic, (in English Democratic Tsunami) used by the rioters to see the locations of new demonstrations posted on Twitter:

“We call on the international community to take a clear position in favor of the resolution of the conflict between Catalonia and Spain based on dialogue and respect. There is only one path: sitting down and talking, sitting down and talking.”