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PROTESTS

Catalonia protests: Separatists block Spain-France highway

Catalan separatist activists blocked traffic on Monday on a motorway linking Spain and France, in a fresh protest against the sentencing last month of nine of their leaders to lengthy jail terms.

Catalonia protests: Separatists block Spain-France highway
stand guard as protesters block the AP-7 highway at the Spanish-French border in La Jonquera. Photo: AFP

Demonstrators cut the AP7 motorway at La Jonquera near the city of Girona in eastern Spain, a day after a repeat general election in which Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialist emerged as winners but weakened, while far-right party Vox surged to third place on the back of its hardline stance against separatism.

Dozens of vehicles blocked the motorway near the border with France while some 300 people set up a barricade, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.

Some demonstrators began to set up a stage and speakers which they brought to the scene in vans.

Catalonia's regional road department confirmed the motorway was cut in both directions at La Jonquera.

The protest was called by a new, mysterious organisation called “Democratic Tsunami” which last month sent thousands of people to block access to Barcelona airport in a protest which ended in clashes between demonstrators
and police.

“This mobilisation is a cry to the international community so that it makes the Spanish state understand that the only possible path is to sit down and talk,” the group said in a message sent to its followers on encrypted messaging service Telegram.

Radical separatist group CDR also called on its supporters to head to La Jonquera to block the highway.   

Catalonia was rocked by days of mass, sometimes violent, pro-independence rallies after Spain's Supreme Court on October 14 sentenced nine politicians and activists to jail for up to 13 years for their role in a failed secession
bid in 2017.   

Demonstrators have frequently cut road and rail links between Spain and France while many shops in downtown Barcelona have been shut during the rallies and there are growing concerns about the impact of the unrest on business in Spain's second largest city.

ANALYSIS: How the Catalan independence movement proves the future of protest is high tech

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PROTESTS

Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

Students blockaded five schools in Paris on Tuesday to demonstrate their political concerns ahead of the second round of the Presidential elections on Sunday.

Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

In addition to the five blockaded lycées, the université Paris 8 in Saint-Denis was closed “for security reasons”.

The students – who are too young to make their voices heard at the ballot box – were protesting against the options available to voters in the second round – where incumbent Emmanuel Macron takes on far-right leader Marine Le Pen – and follows earlier student protests at the Sorbonne.

Many were demonstrating in protest at what they saw as inadequate policies on climate change and social issues from both candidates in the final round of voting, as well as the lack of choice for the electorate.

“It is a continuation of what happened at the Sorbonne,” one student told AFP. “We want a third social round, because the two candidates qualified for the second round have no social or ecological programmes. 

“We want to give a new breath to this Fifth Republic a little at the end of the race.

“We are fed up with the fascist state. We are here against Marine Le Pen, against fascism, for the climate and against capitalism,” another student at the lycée Louis-le-Grand in the capital’s fifth arrondissement said.

“We have blocked all the entrances. We will stay there as long as possible.”

About 100 students blockaded the prestigious school. Some students chant slogans against the “Front National” – the former name of second-round candidate Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National party.

The blockades ended peacefully at the end of the day.

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