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Tens of thousands take to streets of Catalonia on day of general strike

Catch up with our coverage from Tuesday after unions called stoppages in response to actions by Spanish National Police and Civil Guard on Sunday

People throng the streets of Barcelona during Tuesday’s general strike.
People throng the streets of Barcelona during Tuesday’s general strike. EL PAÍS

Two days after Catalonia held a banned independence referendum, the region was operating at half speed on Tuesday due to a general strike called by small unions. The two large Spanish general workers’ unions, UGT and CC OO, have encouraged people to demonstrate in a “paro de país” (country stoppage) to protest the police violence on Sunday, but underscored that they are not participating in the call for a general strike.

For weeks, the separatist movement has been trying to attract Catalonia’s majority unions to their cause. But the latter’s position is to demand a legal, negotiated referendum for the region, not a unilateral secession.

The strike was called to protest National Police and Civil Guard action on Sunday after almost 850 people ended up needing medical attention as ugly scenes played out – scenes that were beamed around the world – between the authorities and members of the public.

Minimum services were established during rush hour (from 6.30am to 9.30am, and from 5pm to 8pm) for subway, bus and train services. The strike has been backed by the Catalan executive, known as the Generalitat.

Meanwhile, members of the National Police and Civil Guard were under pressure from the hotels where they are staying to leave, and in some cases were ejected.

Thousands of people also gathered in Barcelona and Reus to protest in front of police stations.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is set to make an appearance in Congress next week, and held talks with other political leaders in a bid to deal with the Catalan crisis.

Data from the poll shows around 90% of voters cast their ballots in favor of independence. However, participation was just 2,262,424 of a total voter pool of 5,343,358, for a turnout rate of 42%, according to the Catalan government’s own figures. The abstention rate was 58%.

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