After hundreds of pro-independence protesters marched in Catalonia this weekend, members of the Spanish opposition party are calling on Madrid to impose direct rule over the region to restore order. The demonstrations were in response to the jailing of those who organized Catalonia’s independence referendum in 2017, but the Barcelona protests have gotten so out of control that at least 184 people have been arrested and 13 have been hospitalized with injuries, including four who were partially blinded by plastic bullets.
According to Spain’s constitution, Madrid is allowed to intervene in autonomous communities considered to be acting against Spain’s interests. Albert Rivera, the head of the center-right party, has called on the Spanish government to end the chaos by suspending Catalonia’s autonomy and removing its president from office.
Despite a slight reduction in violence over the weekend, there seem to be no signs that the two sides are engaging in any kind of productive dialogue. Catalonia’s president, Quim Torra, has reportedly tried to contact Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, but his calls have not been answered. In a possible explanation, Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska has demanded that “all political forces distance themselves from the violence,” though that might not be the most efficient way to resolve the situation.
Sánchez’s government has refused to revoke Catalonia’s autonomy and impose order through force, insisting that it’s handling the protests in a measured manner. In the meantime, however, travel to Barcelona is being heavily impacted by the violence, with over 50 flights to Barcelona already canceled.