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  • People participate in a demonstration in Barcelona, Spain October 22, 2019.

    People participate in a demonstration in Barcelona, Spain October 22, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 October 2019

The atmosphere has calmed down since Sunday, but the Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) remain active calling demonstrations like the one on Tuesday.

Hundreds of Catalan separatists took to the streets in Barcelona on Tuesday and symbolically "cleaned" Barcelona by dumping soap into a fountain.

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They were chanting "Freedom for political prisoners" in Catalan, as the northeastern region was rocked by seven consecutive nights of violent protests after nine Catalan pro-independence leaders were convicted of sedition on Oct. 14 for leading a 2017 bid for independence that included holding a referendum.

"It seems a shame that (Spanish acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez) comes to Barcelona and does not meet with the president of all Catalans," said a protestor named Rosanna to Reuters. "But that is his line because he was not able to negotiate before the new elections, he was not able to negotiate with any party to form a government, it is as if he said 'well, let time goes by and that will be fixed', that is, the same as Rajoy."

Spain's main parties have consistently rejected calls for an independence referendum and acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez spurned Catalan regional leader Quim Torra during a quick visit to Catalonia on Monday, accusing him of failing in his duty to restore order and condemn protest violence.

Torra urged Sanchez on Tuesday "to initiate a dialogue without conditions...in which the Catalan government will defend its right to self-determination."

Catalonia's pro-independence movement aims to get over 50 percent of the region's vote in a Nov. 10 Spanish election after mass protests over the jailing of nine Catalan activists, which would strengthen its push for independence, the regional government head told Reuters on Tuesday.

Quim Torra said in an interview at the Generalitat government palace in Barcelona that the independence process is irreversible, especially after having not seen a proposal from President Pedro Sanchez, who did not meet with Torra during a visit to the region on Monday.

"Regrettably, what we know now in the year and a half that Sanchez has been president, he's done the same as (former president Mariano) Rajoy. And that is what has hurt us because we believed that there was an alternative, we believed that the PSOE had a proposal for Catalonia," Torra said.

Catalan pro-independence parties have fallen short of 50 percent of the vote in recent elections in the region, although they still hold the majority of seats in the Catalan parliament after garnering 47.5 percent in 2017's regional election.

Torra reiterated his call for talks with Madrid to start as soon as possible on an independence referendum in Catalonia.

Asked about the possibility of such a plebiscite being held without Spain's consent, Torra said he was seeking a wide agreement among Catalan parties on a road map towards the region's independence, so no options were ruled out.

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