Catalonia’s President Calls for New Referendum, Independence by 2021, amid Violence in Barcelona
Torra call for a new vote comes as Spain’s Prime Minister asked him to condemn the ongoing violent protests throughout Catalonia.
Quim Torra, the President of the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia, has condemned the street violence by pro-independence protesters raging in Barcelona but has also insisted on holding a new independence referendum.
The call came after on Wednesday the Catalan capital Barcelona and other cities such as Tarragona and Lleida saw a third consecutive day of violent protests, 2 years after Catalonia’s failed independence referendum.
Back in 2017, the independence vote reached a turnout over 43% (with 2.2 million votes cast), of which 92% voted in favor of independence.
However, the referendum had been declared illegal a month in advance by the Constitutional Court of Spain, and was followed by a police crackdown and a government crisis in the province of Catalonia, which was stripped of its autonomy by the central government in Madrid for nearly seven months.
The current violent protests in Catalonia erupted after on Monday the Supreme Court gave hefty prison sentences ranging from 9 to 13 in years to 9 Catalan leaders, who were arrested last month, over their involvement in the attempt to declare independence in 2017.
In condemning the street violence in his first comments since the protests erupted, on Wednesday, Catalan President Quim Torra was reacting to a direct appeal by Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
“This has to stop right now. There is no reason or justification for burning cars, nor any other vandalism. Protest should be peaceful,” Torra declared, as cited by AFP and France24.
“We cannot allow such groups who infiltrate and provoke to harm the image of a movement which counts millions of Catalans,” he added.
At the same time, however, the following day, Torra declared that Catalonia should hold a new referendum for independence from Spain, with the goal achieving actual independence by the end of 2021.
Making that arrangement conditional on a consensus by the Catalan political parties, he told the region’s parliament that he wanted a proposal for a “Catalan republic” to be ready by the spring of next year.
He also described the perception that the Catalan separatist movement was violent a “false narrative”.
The protests that have spiraled out of control in the Catalan cities have been organized by the pro-independence group “Committees for the Defense of the Republic” (CDR), the organization that the nine newly imprisoned Catalan leaders are associated with.
As they clashed with riot police, some protesters even went as far as throwing Molotov cocktails.
Some 300 people, including dozens of police officers, have been injured in the clashes in Catalonia so far.
Spain is going to hold a general election on November 10, 2019, its fourth in the past 4 years.
(Banner image: TV grab from France24)