VIOLENCE broke out at a protest in Barcelona yesterday when riot police charged in to break up a demonstration marking the first anniversary of the Catalonian independence referendum.
Around 180,000 people took to the streets in the region’s capital, hanging ballot boxes and chanting the regional anthem.
Police used batons to control the thousands marching, some of whom were waving yellow, red and blue separatist flags and chanting “October 1, no forgiving, no forgetting”.
Protestors surrounded the regional parliament building and displayed posters reading “Republic under construction”.
One year ago Catalonian residents voted to split from Spain, but the vote was not recognised as legitimate by the Spanish government.
Whilst Catalonia unilaterally declared independence, Madrid then imposed direct rule and elections later returned a regional government favouring a split with Spain.
Current polls show a relatively equal split between those who want independence for Catalonia and those who favour remaining in Spain.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has ruled out any shift on the government’s fierce opposition to independence, but said he wants a dialogue about the future of the region.
Pau Benito, 22, a medical student attending the protest with friends, said he supports leaving Spain but thinks the independence movement must be cautious, so they do not alienate people.