All major roads and some railway stations have been blocked across Catalonia in demonstrations called by pro-independence groups, as a reaction to Spain taking over control of the region after the declaration of independence. Minor scuffles were reported when police moved in to remove protesters.
Protesters shut down roads, causing huge tailbacks into Barcelona, and some public transport ran minimum services in response to calls for action by two civic groups whose heads were imprisoned last month on sedition charges and a labor union.
Many of the blockades were on roads leading to major Catalan cities, including the regional capital Barcelona, and major highways, the Catalan Transit Service said. Disruptions affected more than 60 sections of road and highway throughout the morning, they add in a statement.
As many smaller stores left their shutters closed, most larger shops and businesses in the region appeared to be open as normal. Both of the Spanish biggest unions didn’t support the move, and the strike seems to have very little impact on the regions biggest industry – tourism.
“Why should I strike, nobody is going to raise my salary. In this world we have to work and not argue so much,” Jose Luis, a construction worker, told Reuters as he walked through Barcelona on his way to work.
Dastis: Constitutional changes to allow regional referendums possible
Spain is considering constitutional changes that could allow its regions to hold referendums on independence in the future, the foreign minister Alfonso Dastis has told the BBC. The move is in recognition of the events in Catalonia, where the regional government was deposed after a unilateral declaration of independence.
“We have created a committee in parliament to explore the possibility of amending the constitution to be able to accommodate better the aspirations of some of the Catalan people. We acknowledge there is a political situation that deserves to be looked at but, in any case, it’s clear that the decision will be taken, will have to be taken by all Spaniards,” Dastis said.
Spanish FM also added he was sorry if people got hurt during the banned referendum last month, but that there was no disproportionate use of force. He earlier claimed that some of the pictures of violence were edited and false.
Meanwhile, Spain’s Constitutional Court has officially annulled the Catalan parliament’s unilateral declaration of independence. The court had initially suspended implementation of the document hours after it was voted in the Catalan parliament, while it studied its legality following a challenge by the Spanish government.
Catalonia ruling parties going to elections separately
Ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s center-right PDeCAT and the leftist ERC of former regional vice president Oriol Junqueras had until midnight on Tuesday to agree on a new pact, but they failed to meet that deadline, meaning they will contest for the votes as separate parties. They were part of the ruling coalition for the last two years, but tensions were apparent in the period between the referendum and the declaration.
The central government in Madrid called the election for 21st of December. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called today for the highest participation possible in his parliamentary address.