[Scroll down to read this morning’s live blog]
The central government’s Cabinet meeting was held today in Barcelona, amid protests throughout Catalonia at what pro-independence supporters called “a provocation” by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
Despite efforts of demonstrators to cut off roads and freeways, the meeting went ahead as planned, and afterwards government ministers announced a number of symbolic measures for the region, such as renaming Barcelona airport Josep Tarradellas, in honor of a former premier who was exiled to France during the Franco era.
Thousands of police officers were on the streets this morning to deal with the protests called by groups such as the so-called Committee for the Defense of the Republic (CDR). There were a number of incidents during the morning, prompting police to charge against demonstrators, and make at least 11 arrests.
The protests come a day after Sánchez and Catalan premier Quim Torra agreed to work on “effective dialogue” at a private meeting in Barcelona. In a joint press release, the leaders said they were committed to finding a “political proposal that is widely supported by the Catalan people.” They agreed that there was a “conflict about the future of Catalonia” and while they accepted there are “notable differences on its origin, character and path to resolution,” promised to move forward through dialogue.
Central government spokesperson, Isabel Celaá, discusses Article 155, which was used by the Popular Party government last year to suspend Catalonia's regional powers in the wake of the unilateral declaration of independence: “Mr Rivera [the leader of the Ciudadanos party] constantly invokes Article 155 as if it were the only article of the Constitution. That article does not provide any political response to Catalonia. What Rivera is doing is defending the recentralization of Spain, and this government is not in favor of that.
Meritxell Batet, Minister of Territorial Policy in the Socialist Party government: “I think it is a positive thing that the Cabinet meeting can be held in any area in spain. We celebrate the fact that we can hold a Cabinet meeting in Barcelona, which is also my city. That is compatible with the demonstrations and the freedom of expression of citizens. What we are calling for is for these to be peaceful and to respect the rights of the rest of the citizens.”
Central government spokesperson, Isabel Celaá turns to the meeting on Thursday between Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and hardline pro-independence regional premier Quim Torra: “We view yesterday’s meeting as very positive. The government has always sought spaces for dialogue. We believe there is no other option. [...] Dialogue within the Constitution is going to lead us to address the Catalonia conflict.
Central government spokesperson, Isabel Celaá: “The Cabinet has approved a name change for Barcelona airport, which will be called Josep Tarradellas.”
Josep Tarradellas was a Catalan politician who was exiled under Franco, and was regional premier while in France.
More information about him here: http://cort.as/-DFdQ
Pablo Casado, leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), criticizes PM Sánchez's meeting with Catalan premier Quim Torra: “Yesterday negotiations began to break up national sovereignty.”
Casado argues “what is most presing is to apply Article 155 of the Constitution and call immediate general elections,” in reference to the emergency measure that would suspend the region's autonomous power.