The “Procés” (Catalan word literally meaning “process” and used in connection with the separation of Catalonia from Spain) has been gaining momentum since the first independence referendum in 2014. Carles Puigdemont took over as the head of regional government in 2016 and an independence referendum was set for 1st October 2017.

The central government declared the referendum illegal and thousands of Catalans took to the streets to occupy polling stations and keep them open. The National Police and Guardia Civil were deployed after the Catalan Regional Police failed to close polling stations in line with a court order. There were violent clashes at polling stations throughout Catalonia when police forcibly attempted to remove ballot boxes from them, resorting to the use of truncheons and rubber bullets.

A rally attended by Manuel Andrino, chief of the ultranationalist far-right wing party La Falange, took place in the centre of Barcelona on the same day opposing the separatists’ bid for Independence. Although the national police were present in numbers to limit interaction between both sides, there were outbreaks of violence.  La Falange claims to be the successor of the original Falange Española Tradicionalista formed by Francisco Franco in 1937. It is a minority party in Spain and inspired by the success of other far-right parties in Europe.

Barcelona, 1st October 2017

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