Separatist Activists Cut Roads in Catalonia as Strike Begins


Activists blocked roads in Catalonia before daybreak on Thursday at the start of a region-wide strike against the trial of separatist leaders for their role in a failed secession attempt in 2017.

Traffic authorities in the northeastern region said they had cut off around 20 roads, including the A7 highway that links Spain to France, the A2 between Madrid and Barcelona and the main entry points to the Mediterranean city.

Activists also blocked train traffic by occupying the tracks on two railway lines, according to the company that manages Spain's rail network.

The one-day strike has been called by Intersindical CSC, a small pro-independence union, to protest against the trial of 12 separatist leaders that opened last week at Madrid's Supreme Court.

The union has the support of separatist parties and associations, but not of the other bigger unions.

The Catalan employers' association, meanwhile, has denounced the work stoppage as politically-motivated.

The region's separatist government has expressed solidarity with the strike and cancelled all official events planned for Thursday.

The trial of 12 Catalan separatist leaders and activists, nine of whom are accused of rebellion, started on February 12 under intense domestic and foreign scrutiny.

They are being tried for pushing an independence referendum in October 2017 in defiance of a court ban, and for a subsequent short-lived declaration of independence on October 27.

Catalonia's former president Carles Puigdemont, who fled for Belgium soon after, is not among the defendants as Spain doesn't judge people in absentia for major offences.

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