Protests in Catalonia against Spanish cabinet visit: here’s what happened
At least 11 people were arrested and 46 injured despite heavy security measures
The Spanish cabinet's unprecedented meeting this Friday in Barcelona sparked protests across Catalonia amid heavy security measures. Pro-independence groups saw the meeting as a provocation and called on supporters to take to the streets. Some demonstrators clashed with police and at least 11 people have been arrested and 46 have been injured.
Barcelona on partial lockdown
Several parts of the city center were on lockdown this Friday morning due to the cabinet meeting and the pro-independence protests. The Palau Llotja de Mar building, close to the Barcelona seafront, was the focal point for a large deployment of police officers.
Protesters did not make it to the venue due to the cordons deployed from 5:30am onwards, but demonstrations were active nearby. The Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) pro-independence group gathered in central places like Via Laietana and cut key roads, such as the Diagonal avenue and the Passeig de Gràcia boulevard.
At least 11 arrested and 27 people injured
Clashes between the Catalan police and demonstrators were reported after, according to law enforcement, as the cordon in Avinguda Paral·lel was charged.
Overall 11 people were arrested during the demonstrations in Barcelona and L’Ampolla, a town in south Catalonia.
The Medical Emergency System (SEM) has attended to 51 people in relation to the protest, and 46 of them suffered contusions. Meanwhile, at least 28 police officers needed medical attention, according to official sources.
Furthermore, a journalist was attacked while reporting a protest by the CDR. A masked man punched the reporter from the TV channel Intereconomia. The journalist defended that he was only “trying to do his job”.
Hundreds of people already started protesting on Friday early morning by cutting several roads. In a very much expected move, CDR pro-independence activists cut roads at around 6am such as the main highway in the country, the AP-7, in l'Ampolla, southern Catalonia. Other roads were also cut, including both Barcelona's ring roads.
As road cuts were announced earlier in the week, many people decided to steer clear of Barcelona on Friday morning, with 53% fewer vehicles than normal entering the city's metro area between 6am and 8am.
The Spanish government described its controversial cabinet meeting in Barcelona as a "show of affection" towards Catalonia. Among the decisions adopted today by President Pedro Sánchez's Cabinet, there were several intended to send a positive message to Catalonia.
For example, they approved a €112 million funding plan for major highways and roads in Catalonia, which Madrid says will help boost economic growth. The Spanish government also condemned the trial and execution of former Catalan President Lluís Companys and proclaimed “its recognition and the restitution of its dignity”.
However, another decision turn out to be a controversial one. The Spanish government will change the name of Barcelona-El Prat airport to Josep Tarradellas, Catalonia’s first president after the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. This move was criticized by the Catalan government who claims they were not asked about the change.
Before the cabinet gathering, President Sánchez held a meeting with Barcelona's mayor Ada Colau. A former anti-eviction activist, Colau requested for Sánchez to make it so that municipalities can limit “abusive rents” to facilitate rental housing access. According to her, his government pledged, after their meeting, to include the measure in upcoming legislation.