21:05 GMT +320 November 2019
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    Protesters hold Spanish flags during a pro-union demonstration

    Flaming Barcelona: ‘The Movement Lacks Political Leadership… They Are All in Jail’

    © AFP 2019 / PAU BARRENA
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    Demonstrations are hotting up in Catalonia, with fires engulfing the streets of Barcelona, and more action on the way. The clashes come on the back of a decision by the Spanish Supreme Court to incarcerate nine pro-independence leaders.

    Ivan Serrano, professor of political theory at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, unpicks the fabric behind the latest protests.

    Sputnik: What is the current situation in Catalonia?

    Serrano: The current situation is primarily derived from the sentences that were issued on Monday. On the back of that, there are a mixture of social mobilisation tactics. On the one hand, there are some planned marches towards Barcelona, in the context of the General Strike that has been called to take place tomorrow. There will be a demonstration on Saturday as well, and then there are the incidents happening during the evenings in symbolic spots in the region- mainly the delegations of the central government. There have been moments of tension, because of interventions by the police and the attitude among the demonstrators, which has called the attention of local, national and international media coverage.

    Sputnik: Are the protests justified?

    Serrano: Of course, it's a matter of opinion whether or not they are justified with such intensity. Instead, we might think of what has triggered this situation. On the one hand, it's all related in the first place with the sentences that were published on Monday, between nine and fifteen years in prison for the Catalan Independence leaders. And then, in a broader perspective, we could say that we are experiencing the effects of the lack of willingness by the central government to channel these political demands by a democratic means- if not via a referendum or some other potential mechanism of dialogue. So, we are witnessing now a combination between the long-term, ongoing process- which is the conflicting political demands on Catalonia about self-determination. And in a more immediate way, the protests have sprung from the current situation, which is the sentencing of the political leaders in the pro-independence scene.

    Students hold a rally in Barcelona
    © Sputnik / Daniel Martin Santos
    Students hold a rally in Barcelona

    The pro-independence movement has been proudly peaceful until now. How will this affect the reputation of the movement in the eyes of the European Union- who have neglected to intervene in the crisis so far?

    This current image of the situation in Catalonia, with riots, fights in the streets, and social unrest is happening for the first time. It has to do with the fact that the political leaders are now in jail, so there is a lack of political leadership in today's pro-independence movement.

    This is very problematic and very serious in my view, because for so long the Catalan pro-independence movement was expecting the intervention, or the mediation of the international community, and particularly the European Union. But nothing has changed in this sense. This is a dangerous democratic situation in my view, which is no matter how peaceful or violent the situation may be, the international community and the European Union in particular, are not going to intervene into facilitating a political solution. And it is this perception that, at least for one part of the pro-independence movement, may help to explain why the current situation is as it is now.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    protests, Catalonia Independence Referendum, Catalonia, Barcelona
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