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October 21, 2019

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Pro-Spain Catalonian leader calls to ‘remain’

One of the most prominent figures against independence for the Spanish region of Catalonia staged a counter-protest yesterday after a week of separatist unrest and called for an end to the violence.

Albert Rivera, head of the pro-unionist Ciudadanos party, told hundreds of flag-waving supporters that Spain’s acting Socialist government was not doing enough to end the chaos sparked by the jailing of separatist leaders.

“People can’t take their children to school. They can’t open their businesses,” Barcelona-born Rivera said. “We need a Spanish government that protects the weak.”

Pro-independence supporters have taken to the streets of Barcelona for six days running in often violent confrontations with police that have left dozens injured and caused more than a million euros (US$1.1 million) of damage to the Mediterranean city.

A policeman and a protester remained in critical condition, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said yesterday, adding that “several people” had been blinded in one eye by police rubber bullets.

After unprecedented violence on Friday, demonstrations on Saturday passed off relatively peacefully and the government has said it has the situation under control.

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 favor.

“There are more of us Catalan Spaniards than separatists. It’s important that people see that not everyone is in favor of independence,” said Martina Gonzalez, a 58-year-old cleaner who had a Spanish flag draped over her shoulders.


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