Catalan government condemns protests outside Parliament doors
Vice president says violent scenes "must never be repeated," while opposition accuses president Torra of inciting clashes with police
On Tuesday morning, the Catalan government condemned the violent incidents that took place at the doors of the Catalan parliament on Monday evening, when pro-independence supporters clashed with the Catalan police, following a mass demonstration in Barcelona in favor of self-determination.
"Violence is never the way forward. Neither to demand anything nor to prevent a democratic demonstration," said Vice President Pere Aragonès in a television interview on Tuesday, who added that the scenes from the previous evening "must never be repeated."
"We politicians have to demand responsibility from political and social organizations that protest. They have that right and we'll always defend the right to free assembly. But it must be carried out in a civic and peaceful way with a democratic spirit. When Quim Torra spoke he meant it in that sense," said Aragonés.
Torra under fire
President Torra has come under fire from the opposition and parts of the media after a speech on Monday, on the first anniversary of last year's independence referendum, in which he encouraged protest groups "to pressure" politicians. His words were interpreted by some as inciting acts of civil disobedience by pro-independence groups.
Yet, the government spokeswoman, Elsa Artadi, was keen to distance the president's stance from Monday's actions by protest groups. "One thing is applying pressure and another is being violent. Torra asked people to continue protesting and making demands, but in no way does he call for violence," she said.
Torrent wants "joint strategy"
Meanwhile, the Parliament president, Roger Torrent, regretted the disturbances outside the chamber building. "Some images do not help us grow," he told Catalan television, adding a call for a "joint strategy" between "the streets and the institutions."
"The pro-independence movement is a peaceful, democratic and civic movement and we are convinced that it continues to be so today," he added, pointing out that "we are coming out of a very heavy repression that is still ongoing," and that pro-independence groups "have had to adapt to the situation."
Ministers call for more "responsibility"
That did not stop members of the Spanish government from publicly criticizing the Catalan president. The territorial policy minister, Meritxell Batet, condemned Torra's "irresponsibility" in encouraging protesters, while Spain's Vice President Carmen Calvo also suggested that Torra had acted irresponsibly by "not taking charge" of security on the referendum anniversary.
The official comment from the central government in Madrid was that "President Torra has to fulfil his institutional responsibilities and not put at risk the path to the normalization of politics begun by the Sánchez government, by encouraging radicals who believe the streets belong to them."
Rivera calls for "humiliations" to end
The opposition were also highly critical, with the leader of the Ciutadans (Cs) party in Spain, Albert Rivera, on Tuesday calling on Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, to end the "humiliations." Sánchez needed votes from pro-independence parties to become president and Rivera warned him: "Spain cannot be governed by those who want to break it."
Meanwhile, Rivera's party colleague, the Cs leader in Catalonia, Inés Arrimadas, added her condemnation, accusing the demonstration yesterday evening of including "separatist cells." The Cs head also pointed out that in the evening she had to be escorted from the Parliament by "a heavy police cordon."
ANC: "Collective indignation"
The head on the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), one of the main pro-independence organizations, said that Monday's incidents were the result of "collective indignation" within the pro-independence movement. ANC head, Elisenda Paluzie, went on to criticize politicians for "not providing a response."