General strike in Catalonia to reject leaders' sentencing - live updates

Unrest erupts in Barcelona after a peaceful half million-strong march

Unrest continues throughout Catalonia (by Gemma Tubert)
Unrest continues throughout Catalonia (by Gemma Tubert) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 18, 2019 12:04 PM

Barcelona descended into its worst night of unrest on Friday, hours after a massive peaceful demonstration took place in the Catalan capital against the sentencing of 9 leaders behind the 2017 independence bid. On Friday, Catalonia held a general strike to protest the Spanish Supreme Court ruling, which has led to scenes of turmoil in Barcelona and other towns.

In the afternoon, 525,000 people flooded the Passeig de Gràcia boulevard in the city center, according to the local police. The rally put an end to three days of marches across the country stretching over 100 kilometers, which blocked major highways and roads along the route. Around 6 pm, on the Via Laietana avenue, clashes began between Spanish police and protesters setting barricades on fire. Other pro-independence rallies were held throughout Catalonia.

Reasons for the strike

The pro-independence trade unions Intersindical-CSC and IAC called the stoppage shortly before the judges’ decision. They say the reason for the strike is that their long-standing demands have not yet been met, including a higher minimum wage and equality-promoting measures.

While neither trade union made any explicit mention of the Supreme Court verdict - the law prohibits unions from calling strikes for political reasons - they say they are committed to Catalonia’s national rights, which they also believe affect labor rights.