Mobile World Congress begins in Barcelona amid political controversy

The King of Spain’s arrival is met with protests in the streets and institutional boycott by major figures of Catalonia

Visitors arriving in the Mobile World Congress (by Andrea Zamorano)
Visitors arriving in the Mobile World Congress (by Andrea Zamorano) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 26, 2018 11:19 AM

The Mobile World Congress kicks off in Barcelona amid great political controversy. After months of unprecedented tension over Catalonia’s push for independence, the biggest event in the mobile industry will hardly be an oasis of collaboration between institutions in Catalonia and Spain—especially since the head of the State, King Felipe VI, is visiting Barcelona for the first time since last October’s referendum and declaration of independence. 

The king’s arrival has been met by protests in the streets and the boycott by major political figures in Catalonia. Neither the city’s mayor, Ada Colau, nor the Parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, attended the official welcoming reception. On Sunday, police cordoned off the Palau de la Música, the concert hall where a welcome dinner for the Mobile World Congress was taking place. Hundreds of pro-independence supporters gathered in the area to boo Felipe, and some neighbors loudly played the Spanish national anthem. Earlier in the day, hundreds of unionist supporters gathered to greet the king’s arrival waving Spanish flags.