Tuesday 19 June 2018

Madrid prepares for clashes as Catalans take to the streets

Catalan independence supporters hold a rally in front of the Generalitat de Catalunya after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence. Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Catalan independence supporters hold a rally in front of the Generalitat de Catalunya after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence. Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

James Badcock

The Madrid government is concerned about the potential for confrontation across Catalonia during a weekend of demonstrations and counter- demonstrations.

Spain's El Pais quoted Spanish government sources saying the plan was to act "with prudence and proportionality" to ease Catalonia's former leaders out of their posts, fearful of scenes of street clashes involving police being beamed around the world as occurred during the October referendum.

Volunteers to heed a call to mount the civil disobedience hinted at by Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia's ousted president, are not hard to find.

"If they say that Puigdemont and the speaker of parliament are going to be arrested, we will defend them. It will be peaceful resistance. Let it be they who do the violence," said Sara (17).

"We've declared independence and now come the consequences. It will be humiliating if we don't struggle," agreed her friend Paula (19).

Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, the deputy prime minister widely regarded as the best communicator in the conservative Popular Party government, has been entrusted with the key role of coordinating direct rule from Madrid, but she will face a difficult task.

Marti Olivella, a veteran activist imprisoned in the 1970s for refusing compulsory military service, was yesterday teaching volunteers techniques of passive resistance in a park next to Barcelona's Sants railway station.

"I think it's an illusion to think that people who have led us this far and declared independence are going to just walk away because a law is published," Mr Olivella said in reference to the imposition of Article 155 and the Spanish government's dismissal of Catalonia's ministerial team. Eva Casas (54), a bookseller from Barcelona, recalled what she called the Spanish security forces' "terrorist violence" as they attempted to break up the referendum. "Today we are a republic. Tomorrow the forces of occupation will try and stop us. We are Spain's last colony."

But the organisers of a march against independence also hope to take over the streets of Barcelona today.

The Catalan Civil Society group expect up to a million people to celebrate what he called the "end of the surreal and disturbing adventure by the nationalist political class".

Telegraph.co.uk

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