March 18 2018

Catalans hold general strike over police violence, vow to keep fighting

March 18 2018, 05:03 | Sammy Rose

Catalans hold general strike over police violence, vow to keep fighting

Catalans hold general strike over police violence, vow to keep fighting

Catalans announced a general strike Tuesday following police violence during a referendum on independence.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said: "I am very disturbed by the violence in Catalonia on Sunday".

More than 90 per cent of the votes cast in the referendum were in favour of independence from Spain.

Esteban Gonzalez Pons, an MEP from Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party, rejected calls for mediation, saying Spain did not need "looking after". "It certainly wasn't done in the normal way for a referendum".

Global ratings agencies have given Catalonia a low, "speculative" credit rating, meaning it has difficulty borrowing directly on financial markets and must depend on loans from the Spain's central government.

The referendum debacle brought Spain and Catalonia closer to a potentially disastrous showdown as each side said Sunday's events proved them right and neither looked prepared to cede ground. Spokesman Jordi Turull described King Felipe's intervention as a gravely irresponsible act that "puts more logs on the fire". "They have sided with our democracy and the rule of law", Rajoy said during a news conference.

Puigdemont said there was now no contact between the government in Madrid and his devolved administration.

Barcelona's football stars were among workers in Catalonia to down tools on Tuesday in protest against the Spanish government's actions over the region's independence vote.

A total of 893 people were injured in clashes with police attempting to thwart the public from voting last weekend.

The vote saw a turnout of around 42 percent of registered voters.

Timmermans also said "it is fundamental that the constitution of every one of our member states are upheld and respected".

The region's pro-independence president, Carles Puigdemont, who has said an independence declaration will come in a few days, is due to deliver a speech later Wednesday.

Most polling stations stayed open Sunday, he said, "because the security forces decided that it wasn't worth using force because of the consequences that it could have".

He also called an afternoon meeting with the leaders of the opposition Socialist and Ciudadanos (Citizens) parties to discuss Spain's options.

King Felipe VI made the rare television appearance in the evening and accused authorities in Catalonia of deliberately bending the law and undermining coexistence, adding that the Spanish state has a duty to ensure unity and constitutional order in the country.

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