Tag Archives: Southwest

Four ‘nabbed’ in fresh Spanish protest.


Further protests are expected on Saturday with rallies called in Barcelona, Madrid, the northern towns of Pamplona and Logrono and in Majorca.

Four more people were arrested following another night of violent protests over the jailing of a rapper for controversial tweets, police said on Saturday.


It was the fourth straight night that demonstrators had taken to the streets, although Friday night’s protests only occurred in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

A police spokesman said two people were arrested in Barcelona and another two in the northern city of Girona and that eight officers were injured in the clashes.

Separately, medics said another six people sustained light injuries.

Angry demonstrations first erupted on Tuesday night after police detained rapper Pablo Hasel, 32, who was holed up in a Catalan university to avoid going to jail in a case that has raised concerns about free speech in Spain.


Worst-hit on Friday was Barcelona, where some 2,000 demonstrators gathered in the evening with the protest soon deteriorating into violence.

Hooded demonstrators hurled stones, firecrackers and bottles at police and torched barricades made of rubbish bins and restaurant chairs. At least one restaurant was also set alight.


They also smashed up several banks and shops, which suffered looting, police said.

More than 100 people have been arrested since the protests began, 16 of them on Thursday night. Scores of people have been injured, among them many police officers, but also a young woman who lost an eye after being hit by a foam round fired by police.

Split in ruling coalition

Although most of the protests started in Catalonia, where the rapper is from, they have spread to other cities including Madrid, the eastern city of Valencia and Granada in the south.


Further protests are expected on Saturday with rallies called in Barcelona, Madrid, the northern towns of Pamplona and Logrono and in Majorca.

The clashes have also sparked a political row that has exacerbated a divide within Spain’s leftwing coalition, which groups the Socialists of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the hard-left Podemos.

While the Socialists have firmly opposed the violence, Podemos’ leadership has backed the protesters.

The party emerged from the anti-austerity “Indignados” protest movement that occupied squares across Spain in 2011. Their position is that the Hasel case exposes Spain’s “democratic shortcomings”.


Known for his hard-left views, Hasel was handed a nine-month sentence over tweets glorifying terrorism and videos inciting violence. The court ruling said freedom of expression could not be used “as a ‘blank cheque’ to praise the perpetrators of terrorism”.

He was also fined about 30,000 euros ($36,000) for insults, libel and slander for tweets likening former king Juan Carlos I to a mafia boss and accusing police of torturing and killing demonstrators and migrants.



As vote spikes, Catalan separatism loses its rage.


At the time, about a thousand people massed on Meridiana Avenue, blocking one of Barcelona’s key arteries.

As has happened every night for over a year, dozens of protesters demanding independence from Spain sit down in the middle of a wide Barcelona avenue, bringing traffic to a standstill.


Though just a handful, they are supporters of Catalonia’s powerful separatist movement which is gearing up for an important regional election on Sunday that could ease a years-long crisis over the thorny question of independence.

The movement, whose two main parties dominate the regional government, has faced a growing crisis since 2017 following a failed bid to break away from Spain.

“Before the pandemic there were more of us but people are tired. There is political disenchantment,” says 70-year-old Amadeu Pallister, who swears he has been at every one of the more than 300 nightly protests held so far on Meridiana Avenue.

“Some politicians are talking about dialogue, about negotiating with Madrid, but we already know you can’t expect anything from Spain, only repression,” he told AFP.


“The only solution is independence.”

The nightly demonstrations began in October 2019 when Spain’s Supreme Court handed lengthy prison terms to nine Catalan separatist leaders over their role in the 2017 crisis, sparking mass protests, some of them violent.


At the time, about a thousand people massed on Meridiana Avenue, blocking one of Barcelona’s key arteries.

Laura Borras, “Junts per Catalunya” party (Together For Catalonia) candidate for the up-coming Catalonia regional elections, gives a speech during a campaign meeting in Vic on February 7, 2021. – Regional elections in Spain’s Catalonia will be held on February 14, in a vote that could help settle a years-long separatist crisis. The vote will come more than three years after the region staged a failed bid for independence in 2017 which plunged Spain its worst political crisis in decades. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

Keeping the independence spirit alive
After a year of nightly protests that only stopped during the months-long coronavirus lockdown last spring, the number of participants has dwindled to just a few dozen, who spread out across the eight lanes of traffic ignoring angry honking from drivers.

“It is just not logical to keep doing this for so long: cutting traffic every day for two hours,” said Vicente Serrano, a 61-year-old human resources manager who lives in the neighbourhood.


“But because it’s in the Catalan government’s interest to keep this alive, it accepts and encourages it.”

Serrano fears Sunday’s election will return the separatist parties to power.

They’ve ruled this region of 7.8 million people since 2015 but are coming to the polls strongly divided over the question of exactly how to achieve independence.

And the region itself is divided, with a December poll showing 45.1 percent in favour of independence from Spain and 49.9 percent against, with leaders of the two camps routinely attacking each other.


“In this election, the general tension has given way to internal tension within the independence movement,” says Oriol Bartomeus, a political scientist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

The movement is divided into two main currents with the hardline JxC — “Together for Catalonia” — heading the coalition alongside the more moderate ERC, or “Republican Left of Catalonia”.


JxC has taken a more confrontational approach, pledging a new declaration of independence if it wins while ERC has softened its position, becoming an ally of Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in the national parliament.

Differences to the fore
Ahead of the vote, ERC has accused its rival of not being “realistic”, while JxC argues that ERC’s strategy will lead separatism into a “dead end”.

“The independence movement must decide which direction it’s heading in, whether that of ERC or JxC,” says Bartomeus.


“These elections will provide the answer.”

The Socialists have high hopes after tapping former health minister Salvador Illa, the public face of Spain’s fight against the pandemic, as their candidate for the top post in Catalonia.

Polls suggest the Socialists could come in the first place but the ERC looks poised to play kingmaker.

“ERC has all the cards in its hands,” said political analyst Josep Ramoneda.


The party could form a leftist government with the Socialists and far-left party Podemos, or form another separatist government with JxC, he said, even if ERC has repeatedly ruled out any agreement with the Socialists.

“Whichever happens, reality will kick in and slow the separatist drive. And anyone seeking to speed it up as they did in 2017 will end up crashing.”



Operation Amotekun: FG, Southwest Governors in support

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, met today with South West Governors, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Inspector General of Police.

According to a statement from the Office of the Vice President, the meeting was at the instance of the Governors who had asked to see President Muhammadu Buhari over the controversy surrounding the Amotekun Initiative.

However, due to the President’s foreign engagement, he asked the Vice President to host the meeting.

The statement signed by Mr. Laolu Akande a special aide to the Vice President, suggests that the meeting was very fruitful.

It (the statement) revealed that unanimous resolutions were made on the way forward.

“Having regard to the need for all hands to be on deck in addressing the security concerns across the country, it was agreed that the structure of Amotekun should also align with the Community Policing strategy of the Federal Government.

“It was also agreed that necessary legal instruments will be put in place by each of the States to give legal backing to the initiative and address all issues concerning the regulation of the security structure,” the statement read in part.


Amotekun: Southwest governors meet with Osinbajo in Abuja

Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo is meeting with Southwest governors in Abuja over the setting up of a regional security outfit, Operation Amotekun.

According to reports, the agenda of the meeting is Operation Amotekun.

Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, are also attending the meeting.

Malami had said the establishment of the outfit was illegal and unconstitutional as the issue of security was the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government as laid down in the nation’s constitution.

Since Malami made the statement, outrage has greeted the pronouncement across Southwest. Several bigwigs in Southwest had kicked against Malami’s pronouncement.

Also, protests had rocked Southwest states in defiant to Malami’s statement, while Miyetti Allah has consistently attacked Southwest leaders for insisting on Amotekun, saying that the zone might lose 2023 presidency for this singular act.

Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo

Prof. Wole Soyinka had said Amotekun had come to stay, saying such an outfit was needed in a Southwest zone raved by insecurity.

National leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, while backing the establishment of Amotekun called for dialogue to resolve the difference.