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BOULEVARD PROTESTS

Burgos mayor puts controversial road conversion project on hold

City officials cannot guarantee the safety of workers and demonstrators, says Javier Lacalle

Burgos Mayor Javier Lacalle.
Burgos Mayor Javier Lacalle. EL PAÍS

After five days of unrest in Burgos, which was sparked by violent protests over the conversion of a street into a boulevard, Popular Party Mayor Javier Lacalle announced on Tuesday that the road work would be temporarily suspended because city officials cannot guarantee the safety of the workers and demonstrators.

“The city’s image has suffered,” Lacalle said in reference to the estimated 50,000 euros’ worth of damage caused by the protestors over the weekend, including burnt dumpsters and smashed glass in phone booths, bus shelters and bank branches.

Residents in the Gamonal neighborhood have taken to the streets in an attempt to stop the planned conversion of Vitoria street into a major artery, because they say that it would only increase the traffic flow and noise.

“We are going to remain here until they cancel the work,” said Angelina Fernández, one of dozens who have been holding vigils at the construction site. “If they come here with their tractors, we are going to form a human chain so they cannot pass through, and if they try to pass, they are going to have to run us over.”

Two of the people arrested during the disturbances in Burgos were placed in custody on Tuesday with bail set at 3,000 euros, following two days of courtroom testimony by 40 suspects who were detained at the weekend. The men, aged 18 and 24, have been accused of “public disorder and damages” in relation to the ongoing protests.

Releasing 11 of the detainees on Tuesday, the judge imposed an order for them to report to the courthouse on the first and 15th of every month. They had also been arrested for public disorder offenses. Of the 40 people arrested, 11 are minors.

Members of the Popular Party have, for now, avoided getting involved in the row over the construction project, with the exception of Madrid Mayor Ana Botella, who on Tuesday condemned what she described as the “attacks in Burgos.” She added: “One thing is a citizen protest, and another thing is violence.”