Unrest affecting Catalonia’s reputation abroad, says Madrid
Pedro Sánchez accuses Quim Torra of "underestimating" and "trivializing" the violence seen in Catalonia over the last few days
Spain's acting president, Socialist Pedro Sánchez, has accused Catalan president Quim Torra of "trivializing, banalizing, and underestimating" the violence seen across the country over the last number of days.
Catalonia has seen four days of unrest and chaos after Monday's Supreme Court ruling found independence leaders guilty of sedition and misuse of funds. Nine of the leaders were handed lengthy prison sentences for their roles in the 2017 independence bid.
Spain’s interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska has lamented the recent disorder in Barcelona and other Catalan towns and warned that it is ''affecting Catalonia’s international reputation.''
He did however praise the work of police in limiting the impact of the protests on Thursday night, involving far-right and anti-fascist groups, remarking that ''confrontations were scarce due to the work of the police.''
Marlaska reassured that police will continue to detain people involved in the altercations, which kicked off on Monday following the sentencing of 9 Catalan leaders over the 2017 independence bid. ''We have already arrested a high number of people, and we will continue to arrest more,'' he said.
The minister defended police amid growing criticism over officers’ in the crackdown of protesters, with nearly 400 people injured following clashes and the use of rubber bullets: ''Officers are acting very professionally and are acting as they should in a democratic state: guaranteeing the rights of all citizens.''
Over 200 police officers have reportedly been injured in last days’ altercations in Barcelona and other major towns in Catalonia.
In spite of the disruptions, and mass protests set to congregate on Friday afternoon, Marlaska stresses that the government has ''reiterated to embassies that they can visit Barcelona as normal.''
Spokesperson for the Spanish government Isabel Celaá has said that the far-right violence that has escalated towards the end of the week is down to the independence camp protests.
''It is regrettable that independentist groups and riots have led to this far-right violence,'' she said in an interview on Friday morning with Ser Catalunya. ''Violence leads to more violence'' she said, and warned that Friday’s strikes would be make for a ''complicated day,'' even though she hopes for peaceful protests.