At six this morning, hundreds of Catalans blocked dozens of major roads, highways and railway lines by building burning barricades.
Originally, today’s strike was called to protest minimum wage deals, but with the arrival of pro-secession protestors, it turned into a massive action against the imprisonment of Catalan independence leaders, who were jailed for organising a referendum in October earlier this year.
The new wave of protests was prompted by the official annulment of the Catalan parliament’s unilateral declaration of independence by the Spain’s Constitutional Court. The demonstrations caused traffic jams all over the region and seriously affected education sector, as many schools and universities closed for the day.
The referendum was held on October 1st, and more than 90 per cent voted for independence. It was reported that Spanish police used force while trying to close polling stations and seize ballot boxes, and more than 1,000 Catalans were injured as a result. Mere hours after the vote, Madrid sacked the Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and dissolved its parliament and imposed a direct rule over the wealthy region. Eight nationalist ministers were incarcerated and charged with rebellion, sedition and embezzlement of funds. From his self-imposed exile in Belgium, Carles Puigdemont claims: “There is no desire for the justice, but desire for vengeance.”
According to the country’s 1978 constitution, the referendum was illegal, as the constitution makes no provision for a regional vote on self-determination. Furthermore, 57 per cent of Catalans actually boycotted the referendum, meaning that turnout was only 43 per cent, which makes the 90 per cent “yes” to independence not so overwhelming.
Brussels remains uninvolved, saying that this is a “domestic issue” within Spain, and refuses to interfere in the internal affairs of the country.
“Los catalanes hacen cosas”, gritan los manifestantes pic.twitter.com/eMSyK1QrNZ
— Jessica Mouzo (@CinzasNoPeto) 8 novembre 2017