Infrastructures blocked in strike against imprisonment of Catalan leaders
As main unions in the country did not back the strike, most companies and shops opened as usual
Catalonia’s main roads and rail services were blocked on Wednesday following a general strike called to protest the imprisonment of pro-independence leaders. Since the strike was backed by pro-independence parties and organizations but not by the main unions in the country, most companies and shops opened as usual.
Thousands took to the streets throughout the day in many Catalan towns. In Barcelona, one of the main demonstrations took place in front of the government headquarters in Sant Jaume square. Since Madrid’s dismissal of the Catalan cabinet at the end of October, eight ministers have been held in prison, while five others — including deposed president Carles Puigdemont — are currently in Brussels.
Later in the evening, thousands of protesters gathered in front of Barcelona’s Cathedral. The Catalan writer Bel Olid read the joint manifesto, which stated that “political conflicts should be resolved politically, through negotiation and dialogue,” and labeled the Spanish government’s takeover of Catalan institutions a “direct attack on democracy.”
“Political conflicts should be resolved politically, through negotiation and dialogue”
Bel Olid · Writer
The manifesto also called for the immediate release of all pro-independence figures, including the leaders of two pro-independence civil society organizations, Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, who were preemptively sent to jail on October 16. They all face charges related to the October 1 referendum and the subsequent declaration of independence, suspended by Spain’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday.
Dozens of roads and highways were blocked for the better part of the day by demonstrators, including those connecting the country with France. Police — including Catalonia’s Mossos d’Esquadra, which are currently following orders from the Spanish Home Affairs Ministry — intervened to remove demonstrators, with no major violence being reported.
Major train stations in Barcelona and Girona were flooded with protesters, blocking the circulation of high-speed trains between Catalonia and Spain. According to state-owned Renfe, more than 150,000 travelers were affected.
In comparison with a previous strike on October 3, when people protested against the Spanish police's violent crackdown on referendum voters, the impact of Wednesday’s strike was modest. According to the Spanish government delegation in Catalonia, the impact was “scarce”.
Only 10% of shops and 8% of the industry sector supported the strike, government figures show. In the health sector, 16% workers adhered to the strike. Education was the sector with a highest participation, with a 30% of support.