More than 500,000 cars are expected to head out of the metropolitan area of Barcelona today and tomorrow as people take advantage of the Sant Joan long weekend (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The Catalan Transport Service says that it forecasts a complicated holiday weekend for those on the road, in a report presented last Monday by the interior minister of the Generalitat, Felip Puig. As the public holiday of Sant Joan, celebrated the night before with fireworks and bonfires across the region, this year falls on a Friday and corresponds with the breaking-up of schools yesterday, the authorities believe that traffic will be more difficult than usual. This is despite the special measures that have been put in place to try to ensure the movement of vehicles and calls on the public not to travel late on Thursday and Sunday evenings. Almost 1,800 Mossos d'Esquadra will be on duty on Catalan roads during the weekend, with particular focus on the entrances and exits of the main cities. In addition, tonight there will be 69 alcohol and drug testing checkpoints in place, as this is an event that regularly sees drivers pass the legal limits. According to Puig, on average, alcohol tests in 2010 saw four percent of those tested found to be positive, while on Sant Joan it was seven percent.
Felip Puig will today appear in the Catalan parliament to explain the police operation that was put in place in response to the protests of June 15th, which caused chaos for politicians trying to get into the parliament building to debate this year's Generalitat budgets (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The police were deployed in the Ciutadella park and at the parliament with the aim of enabling the deputies to access the building despite the presence of indignados at all the entrances to the park, protesting at the budget cuts that the Catalan government is intending to introduce. Although the debate went ahead, various MPs were attacked and insulted by the protestors, others had to be ferried in by vans of the Mossos while the Generalitat president, the president of the chamber and some ministers, were flown in by helicopter. Puig has been accused of not planning the operation properly, and he has since admitted that there were insufficiencies in certain points because it was not possible to guarantee the safety of the parliamentary members and staff at all times. However, he has also argued that the main objectives of the operation were met, that's to say, the debate on the budget went ahead and the integrity of the area around the parliament was not breached. Puig has said, too, that he decided not to act with stronger police force so as not to perpetuate the conflict between police and protestors, to ensure that the violence didn't spread to other neighbourhoods of Barcelona and to avoid protestors gathering at the park during the night after the disturbances.
Catalan bakers and cake-makers reckon that they will sell around 1.6 million coques for this Sant Joan celebration, which is around 100,000, or five to six percent, less than in 2010 (read article in Catalan here, Avui). In addition, it is expected that clients will opt for smaller-sized cakes when going to buy their coques. Despite this, the Gremi de Pastissera de Barcelona i Província (professional association of bakers) believes that the average spend will be between €16 and €30 per family of four people. The Gremi also said that the favourite coques would be the traditional types of brioche with glacé fruits and pine nuts, llardons (pork crackling) and custard (crema).