Protesters clash with police as Spain cabinet meets in Catalonia

60 protesters and police hurt as Spain cabinet meets in Catalonia

60 protesters and police hurt as Spain cabinet meets in Catalonia

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Spanish Cabinet members have arrived in a central Barcelona palace for a weekly Cabinet meeting that has been moved to the Catalan capital despite separatists' protests against it.

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

Away from the peaceful march, protesters threw metal barriers and stones at officers and tried to breach a police barrier a few hundred metres (yards) from where the meeting was taking place.

"(Sanchez's government) will want to provoke us, they will be angry, they would like us to be violent, and they will not succeed", the nine prisoners said in a letter released by their political parties.

A dozen protesters were arrested, and scores were injured during the clashes, the regional Mossos d'Esquadra police said after the meeting in Barcelona finished.

It came just as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was holding a cabinet meeting there as part of his policy to fix relations with the Catalan public.

"Our positions are very far apart, this is a reality we are all aware of", said Catalan government spokeswoman Elsa Artadi, who stated there needs to be a "stable mechanism" for dialogue.

Spain's center-left government announced a series of gestures, including steps to reverse the conviction of a Catalan president executed in 1940, and infrastructure works for the northeastern region, along with the highest increase in the national minimum wage in four decades.

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Spain's wealthiest region, Catalonia is home to some 7.5 million people and has its own language.

The protests come after a call by the Committees for the Defense of the Republic, a pro-independence protest group.

In October 2017, the Catalan government, then headed by Carles Puigdemont, held an independence vote in defiance of the policies of the central authorities, which doomed the referendum illegal.

Several Catalan independence leaders were detained on charges of rebellion or misuse of public funds, and prosecutors are seeking jail terms of up to 25 years.

Sanchez took office in June after winning a surprise vote of no-confidence against the previous conservative government with the support of Catalan separatist parties.

He initially adopted a more conciliatory tone towards Catalonia than his conservative predecessor, but efforts to ease tensions with the region have hit a wall.

Meeting at a 14th century building on Barcelona's historic sea front, the cabinet approved a handful of symbolic measures for the region, including renaming an airport for Josep Tarradellas, Catalonia's first president after the end of Spain's dictatorship in the 1970s. "That just looks like a photo aimed at calming people down".

Sanchez had said he wanted to focus on social and economic issues in Catalonia rather than on the region's divisive push for independence past year.

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