Catalan protests as Spanish cabinet goes to Barcelona


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Protesters displayed the Estelada independence flag as they blocked more than 20 roads

Pro-independence protesters have begun blocking roads in some parts of Catalonia as Spanish ministers prepare to hold a cabinet meeting in Barcelona.

The decision to move the meeting was aimed at reducing tensions, months after Catalan leaders were jailed for trying to break away from Spain.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Catalan leader Quim Torra agreed on Thursday to an “effective dialogue”.

But anti-Madrid protests were expected to grow during the day.

More than 20 roads, including the AP7 and A2 motorways, were blocked by protesters across Catalonia as police were deployed in large numbers ahead of the cabinet meeting. The protests were coordinated by a radical group, the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs).

The cabinet was due to convene exactly a year after the Madrid government held snap elections in Catalonia, a decision seen as provocative by pro-independence groups.

On Thursday evening, Mr Sánchez and the Catalan leader held a symbolic meeting and issued a declaration, pledging their “commitment to an effective dialogue that conveys a political proposal with broad support in Catalan society”.

A follow-up meeting between Spain’s vice-president and her Catalan opposite number is to take place next month.

Mr Sánchez came to power as the head of a minority Socialist government in June.

The cabinet was set to rubber-stamp a 22% increase in Spain’s minimum wage, raising it to €1,050 (£950) a month. That would transform it from one of the lowest in Europe to one of the highest.

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