"Total Stoppage": Barcelona Paralyzed By General Strike, Barricades As Protesters Take To The Streets

The Catalan rebellion escalated on Tuesday, resulting in a day of "total stoppage" for the Catalan capital, in which Barcelona metro stations were closed, pickets blocked main roads and civil servants walked out on Tuesday in response to a strike called by pro-independence groups as separatist activists took to the streets of Barcelona to press home their demands for independence after winning an referendum on Sunday which despite a violent crackdown by the Spanish government, saw nearly 90% of the vote cast for splitting away from Madrid.

According to Bloomberg, public transport and shops were closed as demonstrators gathered in the center of the Catalan capital to protest the police violence that marked Sunday’s vote and reinforce their demands for a split with Spain. Photographs showed traffic backed up behind protesters on one of the main highways connecting Catalonia with the rest of Spain. Roads are blocked in 48 places in the region, the Spanish traffic agency said.


Demonstrators in Barcelona, Oct. 3.

Regional traffic authorities in Catalonia told The Spain Report on Tuesday morning that more than 50 barricades or protests had blocked roads across the region, including major toll roads and motorways used for commercial traffic to and from France.

Normally busy metro stations in Barcelona were deserted as services were cut back sharply, pickets blocked traffic on Gran Via street and traffic on six major highways in the region was disrupted by protests, Reuters reported. Elsewhere, the response to the strike call was patchy with some shops, supermarkets and cafes open and some closed. The Boqueria market in Barcelona was almost empty. Pro-independence groups and trade unions in Catalonia called a general strike for Tuesday after Spanish police forcibly tried to close polling stations on Sunday after a referendum on Catalan independence from Spain was banned by the constitutional court.

The protests are part of a day of "total stoppage" called by Catalan separatists and backed by the leading trade unions in the region. In images and footage posted online and broadcast on TV3, tractors, students, protestors and tyres-and even two people playing chess on a table in the middle of one motorway–could all be seen blocking roads.

Catalan First Minister Carles Puigdemont said on Twitter that "Today is a day of democratic, civic, dignified protest. Don't let yourself be provoked. The world has seen it: we are peaceful people".

Long lines of trucks could be seen backed up on many motorways. Data from regional traffic authorities showed the largest traffic jam caused by the protest was 10 kilometers long on the AP7 motorway near Girona; another closer to Barcelona was nine kilometers long; a third near Lleida has vehicles trapped for seven kilometers.

In Barcelona, several thousand people gathered outside the central government office and protested in silence with their hands in the air in protest over the riot police charges on Sunday that the Catalan government says injured 893 people in some way.


People shout slogans outside People's Party (PP) regional HQ in Barcelona,
October 3, 2017

To encourage participation in the strike, the Catalan government has eased requirements for workers to maintain a minimum level of public services such as transport, El Pais reported.

In Gerona, several thousand people gathered outside the headquarters of the Catalan government. Spanish rail track operator Adif reported on Twitter throughout the morning that protestors had alternately blocked and been cleared from the lines at the train station in Girona. By 12 p.m., train services had again been suspended.

The Civil Guard, which is responsible for policing Spanish motorways in the rest of the country, said that it did not do so in Catalonia. That power had been devolved to Catalan authorities, so responsibility for motorways in the region belongs to the Catalan Police, the Mossos. Meanwhile, the mossos said that there was no plan today to try to unblock roads in the region or remove the 50-or-so barricades or protests.

A spokesman for Spanish traffic authorities (DGT) told The Spain Report that responsibility for traffic management and motorways was a power that had been devolved to Catalonia. Separately, a spokesman for the governing Popular Party, Rafael Hernando, told a radio programme on Tuesday that the strike was entirely political and "nothing to do with labour relations or employment".

"It's Nazi-like", he added, which is ironic because that's how the government's crackdown on referendum voters was described on Sunday.

As a reminder, on Sunday two million Catalans backed independence out of 2.3 million votes cast, with just over 5 million people eligible to vote. Before the government crackdown began, separatist leaders said they would be comfortable declaring independence with about 1.8 million votes. The central government said the vote lacked the checks and guarantees required to ensure people didn’t vote more than once.

The vote damaged Rajoy’s authority - he’d vowed to prevent it happening - and left him scrabbling to forge a united front among national political parties to confront the separatist push. One potential ally, the liberal party Ciudadanos, demanded Rajoy suspend Catalan self-government at once to head off a potential declaration of independence, while the Socialists, the biggest opposition party, urged him to open talks with Puigdemont. As Bloomberg adds, at least 500 Spanish police officers have been forced out of hotels in the region under pressure from the separatists, according to a spokesman for the police union. The pro-independence mayor of Calella, a beach resort east of Barcelona, called the manager of a hotel in the town threatening retribution unless he forced a police delegation to leave, the spokesman said.

* * *

Still, not all Catalans were united in thei protest: Spain’s two largest unions on Monday said they would not take part in the general strike and also called for dialogue between the central government and Catalonia, criticizing both the call for independence and the heavy-handed police tactics. “The UGT and the CCOO clearly state that we do not back this position or this political strategy. We are not calling a general strike for Oct. 3,” they said on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Catalan Independence campaign’s political leaders are stalling on their next move as the European Union ignores their calls for mediation. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont vowed to notify the regional parliament that voters had opted for independence in Sunday’s vote. That would trigger a process leading to a unilateral declaration of independence within 48 hours, but on Monday Puigdemont ducked the question of when he would set the clock ticking.

To be sure, the market is far less concerned about next steps: after a selloff on Monday, Spanish assets stabilized with the benchmark stock index trading in line with the rest of the euro area, government bonds a touch lower and the euro little changed against the dollar. That euphoria may be premature however.

What happens next?

Puigdemont’s time frame could see him announce the formation of a Catalan republic on Oct. 6 - exactly 83 years since his predecessor as regional president, Lluis Companys, also tried to declare independence. Companys was executed by the dictator Francisco Franco.

“What happened must receive a forceful answer from the Catalan society, who must demand that it isn’t going to happen again in our country,” Javier Pacheco, the head of Comisiones Obreras in Catalunya, said Monday in a joint press conference with his UGT counterpart.

Comments

A. Boaty TahoeBilly2012 Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:51 Permalink

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basque_people

The right of self-determination was asserted by the Basque Parliament in 2002 and 2006.... Since self-determination is not recognized in the Spanish Constitution of 1978, a wide majority of Basques abstained (55%) and some even voted against it (23.5%) in the ratification referendum of December 6 of that year. However, it was approved by clear majority overall in Spanish (87%).

The autonomous regime for the Basque Country was approved in a 1979 referendum but the autonomy of Navarre (Amejoramiento del Fuero: "improvement of the charter") was never subject to a referendum but only approved by the Navarrese Cortes (parliament).

In reply to by TahoeBilly2012

Embrey Red-Pill Girl Tue, 10/03/2017 - 10:37 Permalink

I'll tell you how to get everybody's attention:
Declare independence
Create your own currency and back it partially with gold
Write a Constitution that includes mandatory Catalonian control of the money supply and make it treason, punishable by death, to any elected official attempting to transfer control of the currency
Say no to the EU
Buy some nukes from Pakistan
Allow Russia a naval base on the Med
Ally with Putin.
You think Madrid and the world might give a shit then?

In reply to by Red-Pill Girl

Embrey Red-Pill Girl Tue, 10/03/2017 - 14:13 Permalink

I am aware of the Socialist element in Catalonía. The senyera with the red star on a yellow field symbolizes that movement. The white star on the blue field is not indicative of the Catalonian Socialist movement. I don't deny that Catalonía, and Spain for that matter, have a robust history with socialism. However, you imply that the entire movement is socialist. That is patently untrue.

In reply to by Red-Pill Girl

general ambivalent R.W.D.S. Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:57 Permalink

Part of the problem is that the Right never even considers revolution. They believe in sustaining whatever values remain, which helps keep the system going. This actually ensures that problems get worse and that the inevitable Right reaction or Leftist revolution has no way to even deal with the problems.The whole left/right divide has to be overcome for a society to function. The right of revolution was squandered when half of the population refused to use that right, ensuring that democracy became a tyranny. In this sense, the reactionaries are worse than the 'commies'.

In reply to by R.W.D.S.

RedBaron616 Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:36 Permalink

Let me get this straight. You are going to shut down for a day, damage your economy, and Madrid is supposed to care? Sort of like punching yourself in the face and saying, "Take that!" Apparently, Catalonians aren't the brightest economists.

Son of Captain Nemo RedBaron616 Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:44 Permalink

I agree with your statements.

If the Catalonians want to really win this they are going to have to "starve the beast" for many weeks or months.

Having said that... Madrid played the "Torquemada" card with the protesters too early.

Guess we'll see who has the stronger resolve. They lost to Franco in that Civil War but they have more of it in their DNA than the rest of Western Europe and North America at this point.

Perhaps a "second time" will be the charm?!!!

In reply to by RedBaron616

Don Diego general ambivalent Tue, 10/03/2017 - 08:03 Permalink

yeah right, the Anarchists would lose against a group of old ladies. If you read about the conflict, the Anarchists had no designated officers, so the military actions were based on voting. Obviously, in most cases they voted NO to attack an enemy position.I read the memories of a Soviet submariner advising the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. They had on the periscope the battleship España and ready to sink it. Then the crew had a vote and decided to abandon the attack. 

In reply to by general ambivalent

Grumbleduke Don Diego Tue, 10/03/2017 - 08:35 Permalink

say what you want, but if that would be the MO on every war related issue including ships, tanks, planes, drone-operations - no or little shooting would ever occur :-)One day every soldier recognises, that the only thing he has to win in a war is to come home healthy and without ptsd. I know, I know - not on this planet.

In reply to by Don Diego

BobEore Don Diego Tue, 10/03/2017 - 11:03 Permalink

Obvious.... if can't read history books - or dare not to.

Those "voting" militias ... after smashing the fascist putsch in Barcelona in two days... managed to vote themselves into emptying the armories of weapons, equipping themselves for not just defense, but offense, pushing their way up the Ebro, taking most of Aragon, running Franco's generals ragged with their dogged attacks and guerrillero tactics.

In fact, had they not been deliberately starved of munitions and supplies by the STATIST traitors in their rear...

aka the Commie/socialist/republicans who feared for dear life when the Durruti Columns had been raised from amongst the populace of Catalonia... took heed of their mutual enemy and found common cause with their STATIST friends - the |francoist\falange/fascists - to make sure that campaign stalled out

Otherwise - Don Miedo - those boyz would have rolled right on into the Cantabrians and saved the Basque country from having to capitulate, the brethren in Asturias from the Moorish Legion(irony of irony O "catholic" caballero!)and prolly pushed right thru into Fransciscos' own home turf...

Jus like in Ukrania... it took the combined forces of RED & WHITE TERROR to defeat the black banner.

https://storify.com/SuaveBel/makhnovchina-the-free-territory-is-history…

Yes history repeats. Your recondite fantasies of power do too.

In reply to by Don Diego

Grumbleduke swissthinker Tue, 10/03/2017 - 08:41 Permalink

in times of globalist rule, how can any region be relevant? Push comes to shove, there's a lot competition in Spain to happily take over and let that second Kosovo go its own way. To make a region important said region has to have some rare stuff and/or energy resources.Yes, I'm a cynic.

In reply to by swissthinker

Cloud9.5 RedBaron616 Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:48 Permalink

Actually this is a highly effective tactic.  The vampire needs its host.  Threaten to kill the host and the vampire panics.  If fifty percent of the American population refused to go to work on a given day because Congress refused to rein in the deep state, congress would develop a pair of stones in 3 days. When the economy stops, the grift stops.

In reply to by RedBaron616

Temple of Truth Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:43 Permalink

Anyone who threatens the existence of the EU is being targeted, but in the internet age they can't get away with it anymore. The Eurocrats didn't think ahead on this one, they screwed up big time and the EUSSR may come down sooner than you might expect.

Ghordius Temple of Truth Tue, 10/03/2017 - 08:01 Permalink

where is philipat, the self-appointed sheriff of my comments? here. this comment of "Temple of Truth" is... simply falseit does not help anybody, not even anybody that is against the EU. falsehoods are obfuscatingTemple, "the existence of the EU" is not being targeted by anybody in this Spain vs Catalonia Independence conflictCatalonian independentists are calling on the EU to mediate between them and Spain. and their leadership repeatedly stated that they want to be (an own) member of the EUcome on, philipat and friends, explain to me why I should not highlight such facts. just as someone that lives here, and is sick of all those falsehoods leading nowhere. or why some people are "anally against" such things... they know so little about. foreign affairs that are hardly their concern, I could add

In reply to by Temple of Truth

GodHelpAmerica Ghordius Tue, 10/03/2017 - 08:16 Permalink

How many times will you repeat the same thing?

What you stated above has been clearly outlined in countless articles.

Where you are off base is in the conclusions you are drawing from said facts.

This movement is still relevant in that it speaks to the political discord within the EU, and a further dissolution of central political power (i.e. globalism), despite Catalonia's wishes to remain within the EU project.

Seperately, if Catalonia did want to leave the EU eventually , it would be in its best interest to do so in stages, so as to not shock their economy. It is conceivable that secession from Spain is only step 1 to a longer term plan...

In reply to by Ghordius

Ghordius GodHelpAmerica Tue, 10/03/2017 - 08:33 Permalink

hold on. I have several things that come to my mind to reply in regard to your comment. but this part, I find riveting:"a further dissolution of central political power (i.e. globalism)"could you explain? I see central political power... in Madrid, the capital of the Nation called Spain. and I see Barcelona asking for part of that central political power, to become the capital of a future Nation called Catalonia (oh, and asking the EU to mediate)where is the "globalism" in all this? (and never mind that "speaks to the political discord within the EU", or my "conclusions" where I just offered a correction to a comment with statements based on facts)

In reply to by GodHelpAmerica

Boxed Merlot Ghordius Tue, 10/03/2017 - 09:45 Permalink

I see central political power... in Madrid,...

I think you really do know the difference between Madrid and Brussels. Some "regions" are such as a result of one's point of reference, and if you want to keep your view of the world at looking at your shoes, no one's gonna stop you.

Others on the other hand, have taken to looking up a bit higher than their shackels / sheckels.

jmo.

In reply to by Ghordius

waspwench Ghordius Tue, 10/03/2017 - 15:54 Permalink

"Where is the "globalism" in all this?"   Well, the EU is globalist and anything that damages the EU damages it's globalist agenda.Spain's economy is fragile, to say the least, and the Catalan contribution is indispensable.   Without Catalonia the Spanish economy would have much greater problems and Spain could, in a worst cast scenario, become another failed state like Greece.The ability of Brussels to underwrite Spain's economic collapse in addition to that of Greece (even with access to the bottomless purse of Germany) does not seem possible so, theoretically, Catalonia's separation from Spain could bring down the EU.The collapse of the EU would set back globalism massively.   It may even derail it completely.And that, dear reader, is where the "globalism" is in all of this.

In reply to by Ghordius

neptunium Ghordius Tue, 10/03/2017 - 08:40 Permalink

Ghordius - I understand your frustration that a lot of criticism of the EU relies on "wonky" information. That said, I think you would find it hard to dispute the fact that there has been, effectively, silence on the issue from EU institutions that have, very plainly, been vocal elsewhere. Lets not beat around the bush - "this protest/vote is illegal" is effectively a standard response now from regimes, the only variable here is whether or not the international community agrees with them,If you want an example of the EU (without a referendum in this case) supporting secession (though without a referendum in this instance) look no further than Kosovo.If you want examples of EU leaders and institutions involving themselves intimately in the democratic processes of nation states then look at Greece and Italy.If you want an example of Eu leaders and institutions involving themselves in percieved abuses of human rights, look to Ukraine (Maidan and Crimea).If you want an example of EU leaders and institutions vocally intervening in a constitutional vote - look at Indyref and Brexit.To suggest that the present silence is merely a respect for constitutional norms is dishonest. I think you must surely be aware this is not a result of the limitations of the EU's mandate, and rather more to do with the fact that a genuine secession would cause a massive set of economic challenges relating to sovereign debt that may not be containable. You know as well as I do that there would be massive condemnation were this in almost any other EU member state.Similarly, to suggest that the Catalonian secessionists desire to remain in the EU somehow diminishes their credibility in this matter. Has it not occurred to you that the EU as a vast protectionist trading bloc is pretty hard to operate outside of. Presumably there isn't a "trade only" option available.You simply can not avoid the basic reality that violent, anti-democratic actions against a civilian population has effectively been ignored not as a result of protocol but becuase it is more convenient to do so.

In reply to by Ghordius

Ghordius neptunium Tue, 10/03/2017 - 10:27 Permalink

excellent responsehere, a personal correction:"To suggest that the present silence is merely a respect for constitutional norms is... "... my expectation. based on the treaties, based on what I want "the EU" to be (and not to be)the org... is not the members, which are sovereignit's up to Paris, London, Berlin, Rome to do or not such condemnations you are requesting. not that orghence the treaties, etc.

In reply to by neptunium