Protesters Block Highways as Catalan Parliament Presses for Independence

BARCELONA/LA JONQUERA, Spain—Catalonias Parliament pressed its case for secession from Spain on Nov. 12, two days after a national election, while separatist protesters blocked one of the regions major highways and also disrupted traffic in the Basque Country.

Protesters blocked the AP-7 highway in both directions around the secessionist Catalan stronghold of Girona.

Earlier, French riot police had used tear gas to clear protesters at the border who were blocking the AP-7 highway that links France and Spain. They arrested 18 people at the La Jonquera border crossing and Catalan police arrested one person, officials said.

Catalan demonstrators also converged on Nov. 12 on a highway in the Basque region near the French border town of Irun, disrupting traffic and causing jams of up to 11 kilometers (eight miles), the Basque transit authority said.

A secretive protest group called Democratic Tsunami has claimed responsibility for the disruption, which is aimed to draw international attention to the Catalan independence drive.

In Barcelona, local police wrote on Twitter that traffic had been disrupted at several major intersections after another separatist group known as CDR called for protesters to block access points around the Catalan capital.

Defying a warning of legal consequences from Spains Constitutional Court, the Catalan Parliament, which is dominated by pro-independence parties, approved a motion on Nov. 12 that expressed the “will to exercise the right of self-determination in a concrete way.”

The motion called for political action but is non-binding, a Parliament spokeswoman told Reuters.

However, to avoid a dispute with Spains Constitutional Court, the chambers legal team decided not to publish the motion in the official parliamentary register even though it had been approved by lawmakers, a spokesman said.

Spains state prosecution office has asked Catalan prosecutors to investigate whether the Parliaments actions constitute a crime.

Jailed Separatists

The separatist protests, sometimes violent, have overshadowed Spains election campaign following the sentencing in October of nine Catalan separatist leaders who spearheaded a failed independence bid in 2017.

Spains far-right Vox party more than doubled its number of seats after its fiercely anti-separatist rhetoric struck a chord with many voters. The Nov. 10 vote produced a highly fragmented Parliament, though the ruling Socialists and far-left Podemos party pledged on Nov. 12 to work together to try to form a majority coalition.

The pro-independence cause received a tacit boost on Nov. 12 from an adviser to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said jailed Catalan separatist leader Oriol Junqueras, elected to the European Parliament while in detentRead More – Source