Catalan protests halt main route at Spain-France border


Vehicles and protesters have paralyzed traffic at the border between Catalonia and France since early Monday in what a Catalan separatist group said was the beginning of a new wave of protests.

Organizers of the demonstrations said thousands of vehicles were blocking traffic flows in both directions.

Traffic jams now stretch for miles at the border, where the Spanish A-7 highway meets the A-9 highway in France, according to Catalan daily La Vanguardia.

Vehicles are being rerouted through national roads, but lines on those secondary roads have also built up.

The action is being led by Tsunami Democratic, a group that has been behind much of the unrest in Catalonia over the last month. The protests began as a response to prison sentences handed to nine Catalan separatist leaders.

This protest, the group said in a statement, aims to alert the international community about the need for politicians from Catalonia and Spain to “sit down and talk” in the wake of general elections on Sunday.

So far, Spain’s acting prime minister has refused to speak to Catalan separatist leader Quim Torra, saying Torra must first obey the law. Torra has vowed to hold another illegal independence referendum in the wealthy northeastern region.

“Today, we start a new way of protest, using technology to defend rights and collective freedom […] with this new paradigm, vehicles become the protagonists of action,” said the organization on Twitter.

Protesters have set up a stage in the middle of the highway, and have called for protestors to bring sleeping bags, warm clothing and extra batteries for their mobile phones. Photos show that substantial amounts of other supplies including cooking equipment, food and beverages have been gathered. The ACN, another independence group, said portable toilets and a kitchen have also been set up.

Tsunami Democratic noted that this was the first of three days of planned protests. Local media reports that the group plans to stay on the border for 72 hours.

Both French and Spanish police were heavily deployed on either side of the border.
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