Catalonia protest closes down roads, halts public transport

  • 09/11/2017
Protesters block the tracks inside the station of the high speed train AVE during a partial regional strike in Girona, Spain, November 8, 2017.  REUTERS/Albert Gea - RC17435A6450
Photo credit: Reuters

A strike called across Catalonia by pro-independence activists to protest the jailing of sacked regional politicians has shut down roads, causing huge disruptions into Barcelona while some public transport ran minimum services.

Catalan pro-independence union CSC called Wednesday's strike (local time), which was supported by civic groups Asamblea Nacional Catalana (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, whose leaders were imprisoned last month on sedition charges.

Scores of people stood across dozens of major highways in the region waving placards and chanting "freedom for political prisoners" while minor scuffles were reported on social media as police attempted to move protesters, TV and video images showed.

One crowd of activists also forced their way into the train station in the city of Girona and protested on the tracks, causing delays, images on social media showed.

However, despite transport delays, shops and businesses in the region largely appeared to be functioning as normal.

The leaders the ANC and Omnium and eight former members of the Catalan government are in prison awaiting trial after staging a referendum on secession that Spanish courts deemed illegal and then declaring independence.

The independence drive has tipped Spain in to its worst political crisis in decades, widening political and cultural divisions and prompting thousands of companies to relocate out of the region.

Catalan secessionist parties have failed to agree on a united ticket to contest a snap election, making it more difficult to rule the region after the vote and press ahead with their collective bid to split from Spain.

Catalan political parties had until midnight on Tuesday to register coalitions ahead of the December 21 vote, but the two main forces which formed an alliance to rule the region for the last two years did not manage to agree on a new pact in time.