The scream of “independence, independence” won’t stop on the streets of Barcelona. The protest that took place yesterday involved thousands of people shouting for independence and justice. Civil guards arrested 14 people yesterday, a few of them involved important members of the Catalan government. Carme Forcadell (Catalan politician) gave a speech declaring that Spain has attacked the institution and the dignity of Catalonia. She emphasised that it was anti-democratic and the Catalans are free to decide what they want to do with their future.
Today, Catalan’s protest continued in front of “la guarda civil”, where some protestors were previously arrested, with banners proclaiming that “Catalonia is not Spain”, “we are Catalans not Spanish”. As the tension grows, the primer minister Rajoy insists that the referendum is illegal as it is not part of Spain’s constitution, thus they cannot decide for themselves. However, the Catalan government wants to go forward with the referendum.
Even though the referendum was suspended by the constitutional court, Catatonia’s government is doing everything within their reach to go forward with the plan, telling the population to trust them and vote.
The treasury department ruled by Cristobal Montoro has blocked this morning, all bank accounts of the generalitat (the institution under which the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain is politically organised) and from now on, they can only pay bills and use the money if it’s proved that they are not destined for the referendum and it also affects the administration and the companies.
The YES campaign is firmly underway after a major rally in Tarragona last night. Held in the traditional bull ring, police had threatened to prevent the event taking place but did not follow through. The Yes campaign will be dependent on such events in the context of not being allowed any advertisements in the National press apart from state backed Barcelona TV.
Meanwhile 700 Catalan Mayors who are supporting the illegal referendum, have been summoned by the Public Prosecutor, however, it is considered to be sabre rattling by Madrid and unlikely to result in any real action.
Where are the ballot boxes? Is a question many are asking as police had also been given instructions to seize them, but for the moment they are safely hidden in Galicia and not likely to be shipped to Cataluna until the day before the vote.
Will the vote go ahead? It’s likely the police will be given instructions to prevent polling from occurring but its also likely they will not prevent people from actually voting.
The latest polls? In recent years polls had indicated a 50/50 split amongst voters for independence and just two months ago the Yes camp had seen a fall in support. However, the tough approach by Madrid has fuelled support and if a legal referendum occurred today the final result would be too close to call.
Half a million people marched Passeig de Gràcia this Sunday protesting against terror attacks and for peace. The march was led by the King of Spain Felipe VI, Spanish president Mariano Rajoy, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and city major Ada Colau.
The general tenets were solidarity, peace and highlighting that this was not just about a conflict with Islam
Some of the banners read: “Imagine a country that does not sell arms”, “Felipe, whoever seeks peace does not sell weapons” and “NO jihad and no crusades”. People were also holding flags, most of them Catalan and Spanish, but also some Bolivian, Venezuelan and Tibetan flags amongst others as well.
The biggest applause was for the police, who are regarded as dealing with the aftermath and investigation very well.
The biggest boos were for the king as he drove away past people that supported independence and during political interviews afterwards.
Up to 100,000 people are expected and people are encouraged to arrive early as there are many travel disruptions in the meeting area.
16,000 protestors were seen in Cabrills also protesting for peace and included representatives of the Muslim community stating that the men who committed the terrorist acts did not represent them.
The President of the Generalitat, Carlos Pudigemont has accused Spain’s Prime minister Marianna Rajoy of politizing the subject of security following the attacks, highlighting that Spain has not increased resources to the Mossos despite numerous requests. It has also become apparent that one of the intelligence failures running up to the attacks was that the CIA had informed the National intelligence agency in Spain of a possible attack but this had not been passed on to Catalan security authorities.
Catalan police are not without blame, however. Intelligence provided by Belgian authorities concerning the Iman, Es Satty, now known to be the architect of the attacks who was blown up in the house explosion in Alcanar was passed to authorities but not acted upon. National police organisations are also complaining about being left out of post attack investigations by Catalan authorities.
In the aftermath of last week’s attacks, Salh el Karib, has been freed, but his passport confiscated and will be required to attend court at least once a week. He was one of the four people arrested after the attacks in Les Rambles in Barcelona. On Tuesday, Mohammed Alla was also released given that the evidence against him was not solid enough according to the judge. On the other hand, Driss Oukabir and Mohammed Houli Chemlal have been charged with murder, membership of a terrorist organization and possession of explosives.
Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spanish Minister of Interior, has confirmed that Spain’s terrorist threat remains at level 4.
Civil society organizations and Barcelona’s Ajuntament are joining forces this Saturday to host a march for peace against terror this Saturday afternoon in Passeig de Gràcia.
This is partly a response from some political groups against the minute of silence hosted in Plaça Catalunya the day after the attack, since these groups find some of the attendants at that event (like Mariano Rajoy and the King Felipe VI) responsible for collaborating with countries that promote terrorism. This Saturday’s march is going to be focused on citizen cooperation and solidarity, acknowledgement for the victims of the attacks and defense of the muslim community. This march will be attended by many groups and organizations including representatives from muslim entities, emergency services, taxi drivers, Guàrdia Urbana, Mossos d’Esquadra, city cleaning staff, firefighters, hospital professionals and the residents and professionals from Las Ramblas. The slogan will be “No tinc por” (“I’m not afraid”) in different languages.
The march will be starting at 6pm at Jardinets de Gràcia and finishing at Plaça Catalunya.
Reports confirm that Younes Abouyaaqoub has been shot by Police in Subirats but police action continues, with local residents advised to stay at home and avoid using their vehicles.
Barcelona residents breathe a sigh of relief following the news. “Thank god its coming to an end”, said Pedro Fernandez to BarcelonaCityFM.
Following the terrorist attack on Thursday in Las Ramblas, the Mossos released a picture of Younes Abouyaaqoub asking the public for any information. He was consequently identified by a woman who claims to have seen him in Subirats, in the Penedés region.
The woman approached and asked him what he was doing near her home, causing the suspect to flee. She then called the police who responded quickly and gunned him down. The terrorist was found wearing a suicide belt and screaming “Allahu Akbar”. TEDAX, the Spanish explosives department, are still working to determine if the explosive device was real or fake, like the ones used in Cambrils.
Younes had ran over people in Las Ramblas last Thursday, then escaped through Mercat de la Boqueria and walked to Zona Universitaria. There he stabbed the 15th victim, Pau Pérez and escaped alongAvinguda Diagonal in his vehicle. He drove past a police checkpoint, injuring a policeman and the vehicle was found in front of Sant Just Desvern’s Walden building, but Abouyaaqoub was not at the scene.