Spain Minister Attacks ‘Totalitarianism’ of Catalan Separatists

Charles Penty

(Bloomberg) -- Josep Borrell, Spain’s acting foreign minister, accused Catalan separatist leaders of acting in a “totalitarian” way as protests continued at the jailing of former officials who plotted a bid for independence in 2017.

When Catalonia’s secessionist president, Joaquim Torra, claims to be speaking for all Catalans, that comes close to a totalitarian attitude, Borrell, who was born in the region, told reporters Tuesday. “The root of the problem is that the independence movement ignores the ‘Catalanness’ of those people who aren’t in favor of independence,” he said.

Borrell, who himself is Catalan, spoke as protests continued against Supreme Court verdicts on Monday that sentenced nine separatist leaders to a combined 100 years in jail, including a 13-year term for Oriol Junqueras, the region’s former vice president. The judgments relate to an illegal bid by the former Catalan government to declare independence from Spain two years ago.

While separatist parties have a slim majority in the Catalan parliament, polls show support for independence is shared by less than half the population.

Protests on Tuesday lacked the intensity of events Monday when crowds blocked roads and laid siege to Barcelona airport. Even so, protesters clashed with police on Tuesday evening in Barcelona and the cities of Tarragona and Girona, La Vanguardia reported. A crowd of as many as 40,000 gathered in Barcelona, the newspaper said, citing police estimates.

To contact the reporter on this story: Charles Penty in Madrid at cpenty@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Robert Jameson

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