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Many young people are camping out in Plaça Catalunya
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"They can 'clean' the square, but not our ideas."
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A man with a megaphone addresses one of the assemblies
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The participants have provided information for those who want to know more about what they're protesting about
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People of all ages have taken part in the activities
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Another discussion group in progress
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The protests have attracted the curious
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Familiar features of Plaça Catalunya have been transformed
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Protesting in the trees
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Following the police charge on Friday 27th May, signs criticising police brutality have appeared
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The protests have become renowned for their organisation and resources
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Plaça Catalunya is covered with signs like this 'without violence' one
Across Spain yesterday, indignados and pacifists took to the streets of many cities, as well as in Brussels, Paris and Lisbon (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). While the past month has seen the leaderless 15-M movement lose some of its momentum, yesterday's demonstrations brought together thousands of people and in doing so recovered and boosted the initial spirit of the protests that started on May 15th in Spain's major cities, with participants criticising public spending cuts, the financial crisis and the political system. More than 100,000 people marched in Barcelona, and almost 50,000 took part in Madrid, the two cities with the biggest turnout. The demo in Barcelona was notable for its peaceful nature, as well as a party and family atmosphere, which contrasted sharply with the events that took place at the Catalan parliament last Wednesday. This was exactly the aim of those taking part yesterday and a group charged by the organisers to ensure that order was kept, who wore fluorescent tops saying 'Violencia, no' ('Violence, no'), didn't have to take any action, with the same going for the Catalan police. At the end of the protest, around 200 people gathered in front of the Catalan parliament, where there were officers of the Mossos d'Esquadra waiting, but in the end the protestors left without incident.
The European MP Oriol Junqueras has announced that he will be a candidate to be president of the Catalan left-wing independence party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Junqueras's announcement comes after the present leadership of the party decided en masse to step down, following recent losses in both the Catalan parliamentary elections and last month's municipal elections. A party congress has been organised for the autumn at which the new president will be elected and other positions will be filled. Junqueras, who is a historian, made his intentions known in an interview with the Catalan newspaper Ara, where he said he felt strong, enthusiastic and prepared to be the president of ERC. He said that he wanted to run a wide-reaching project that was also coherent, to create a party that would appeal to the majority. Junqueras also said that, if he won, he would aim to keep the best elements of the current leadership while also bringing in the necessary new elements. He said that, at a national level, he thought that agreements between different parties was viable, such as that created by Convergència i Unió and Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds in the council of Sant Vicenç dels Horts and his own collaborations with his fellow Catalan MEPs, who are from the same two parties.
The growing number of wild boar and other animals that are hunted in Catalunya is not only causing problems to farmers in the region but also to drivers; the Spanish environmental department reckons these animals are responsible for between 15,000 and 20,000 road accidents each year (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Many of the accidents take place on country roads that cross private areas for hunting, managed either by individuals or by autonomous communities. As such, damages that have to be paid for accidents incurred on such roads have, to date, been paid by the person or entity responsible for the land where it took place, in accordance with current traffic legislation. However, the ministry has now taken the first steps to change the law so that it is drivers who assume the payment of the damages, which is already the case in the majority of European countries. In Catalunya, such accidents are frequent and the damages they incur run into the millions of euros. Paco Piera, president of the Catalan Hunting Federation (Federación Catalana de Caza), calculates that last year, 1,135 accidents were reported (330 in Girona, 280 in Barcelona, 280 in Lleida and 245 in Tarragona), according to information supplied by the Mossos d'Esquadra and insurance companies. "The compensation goes from a minimum of €1,000 to a maximum of €350,000 to be paid to someone who suffers quadriplegia, but the average is around €2,500," said Piera. As such, hunters last year had to pay around €3,000,000 through their insurance companies, while the Generalitat paid an unknown amount in compensation for such accidents on their land. Hunters have complained about the situation for years, which they consider unfair. They say that when the current hunting law was passed, in 1970, this type of accident was extremely rare, and claim that the increase in the accidents is due to the high number of such animals as well as improvements in roads that now cross rural areas where the creatures proliferate.