Organisers from the group Barcelona Decideix have said that there will be a popular vote held in Barcelona next April on the subject of Catalan independence (article in Castilian, El Periodico). While it remains unclear whether such an initiative would have the support of the council, Barcelona Decideix believes that if it can gather 10,000 volunteers to help with co-ordinating such a referendum, which won’t be legally binding but rather a symbolic gesture to register the feelings of Catalans about their future, it will be able to stage the vote in April 2010, coinciding with Girona and some other Catalan towns. The leader of the municipal group of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, Jordi Portabella, said yesterday that he would bring a motion before the city council regarding the possibility of holding an officially organised event.
The Al Qaeda group that kidnapped three Catalan charity workers two weeks ago has said that the hostages are all well and are being treated according to Islamic law (article in Catalan, Avui). The group, which calls itself Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghrib, sent the message through an audio recording that was first heard on Al-Jazeera television and then later broadcast on various Islamist forums on the internet along with a written note that is two pages long and dated December 7th.
Spain has seen a significant rise in the number of arrests made regarding corruption crimes, with 943 people detained in the past five years (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). This figure means that the number of people implicated in corruption cases in the country has gone up by 25 since 2004: in that year, only 10 people were apprehended, compared to 252 so far this year. Sources in the police say that the reason for the dramatic increase is due to improved efficiency in the force in dealing with such cases. The assessment of the number of arrests made was done to coincide with the International Day Against Corruption.
Also in the news: Catalunya has official representation at Copenhagen summit but as an NGO (Avui); Lack of female taxi drivers holds up plans for ‘pink’ women-only taxis in Barcelona (La Vanguardia); Barcelona restaurants hit by fall in number of companies holding Christmas events (El Periodico)