Clashes between hundreds of pro-independence protesters in Spain and police do not calm down. However, the seventh successive night of street protests in Barcelona with anger over the jailing of Catalan separatist leaders was not as cruel as previous.
The protests have raged since Monday after the Spanish Supreme Court handed lengthy jail terms to nine pro-independence leaders for their role in 2017`s failed independence bid, including the staging of an unlawful referendum.
Amid a general strike on Friday, more than 500,000 people took to the streets ahead of the most turbulent night of conflict.
Acting Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told reporters earlier in the day that 288 police officers had been hurt in the clashes, 267 police vehicles damaged and 194 people arrested. Several hundred protesters were also hurt.
Though the city`s mayor pleaded for restraint and the dozens of middle-aged protesters attempted to form a human barrier between younger protesters and riot police to prevent another street battle, violence erupted again late on Saturday night.
First clasico of the season – match between Barcelona and Real set for 26 October, was also removed to 18 December.
Spain’s government has rejected calls for negotiations from Catalonia`s president on the grounds that he had not sufficiently condemned the violence of protests that have gripped Barcelona for six straight days.
Catalonia’s president Quim Torra came with initiative of discussions with Madrid to find a “democratic solution” to the crisis. He pointed out that the movement itself has a peaceful nature. However, the authorities didn`t share his view and considered that Mr. Torra was not convincing in his condemnation of the violence. He also stressed out that Catalonia should be concerned with a question of coexistence rather than independence as far as the latter will not occur given its illegality and lack of support of the majority of Catalans.
Independence is a highly divisive issue in Catalonia, which is Spain’s wealthiest region and has 7.5 million inhabitants. A poll in July showed backing for secession at its lowest level in two years, with 48.3 percent of people against and 44 percent in favour.