The Mossos d'Esquadra evacuate a building occupied by squatters on Calle Diputació ahead of the Pope's visit on Sunday (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). At 6.30am this morning, the Mossos raided number 352 on Diputació and evacuated the building which has been occupied for months by a group of nine people from various nationalities. The property is on the route to be taken by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday as he makes his way to the Sagrada Familía. The officers gave the squatters 30 minutes to gather their belongings and the eviction was carried out without any incident. The four-storey building had been occupied since last July.
Atheists and critics of the Pope's visit have begun their protests (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The actions or protests against the Pope's visit have begun with the group Ateus de Catalunya driving a bus through the streets of Barcelona with banners saying "more than 1.5 million Catalans are atheist and advocate secularism" and "more than half of young Catalans are not believers". In addition to this visible criticism there will be a rally, organised by more than 60 different groups, held today in the Plaza de Sant Jaume at 7pm. President of Ateus, Albert Riba said "We hope to fill the square and some of the surrounding streets". Amongst the other events organised there will be lectures, costume parties, and a dancemob against the Vatican's policy on AIDs which is scheduled for Saturday at noon at the Arc de Triomf. Gay groups are to hold a mass kiss on Sunday morning at the Cathedral in defense of "their sexual and emotional rights" whilst a women's association will hold a further rally the same day in the Plaza de la Universitat. Riba said of the events, "we are hoping to put it to the government that in Catalunya there are other opinions beyond that of Christian. What we don't want is that politicians pay homage to a head of an anti-democratic and misogynist state."
The Ayuntamiento de Deltebre have created a system to combat the massive theft of shellfish (read article in Castllian here, La Vanguardia). In the Ebro delta theft is a great concern with thieves stealing up to 400 kilos of shellfish by cutting the ropes of the rafts. The situation has got so bad that the city council and Generalitat have commenced a surveillance system to catch the thieves. In recent months the fishermen have started to self-monitor, along with support from the local police in Deltebre (Baix Ebre) but they have now been forced to employ two security guards who will be specifically responsible for the control of those areas. If they detect anything suspicious they will call the Mossos or the local police. According to the mayor of Deltebre, "There are many poachers. The thefts hurt the companies to the point that they do not make a profit from growing or shellfish breeding." Producers are convinced that the increase of night surveillance and routine checks will tackle the problem. Ramon Carles, one of the producers working in the Delta says "They steal everything they can, mussels, oysters, eels". The stolen material is then sold at a low price on the black market, with some restaurants among its customers. Farmers warn of the risk to public health from this practice, as stolen mussels and oysters do not pass any kind of disease control.
Artur Mas admitted yesterday that the issue of campaign financing is an "outstanding issue" but promised to ensure an "honorable and transparent" administration (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The president of the CiU, Artur Mas, acknowledged on Wednesday that political parties border on illegality in financing their campaigns. Speaking at a symposium organised by the Ateneu Barcelonès Mas said that he was aware that campaign financing was an "outstanding issue" and said that "Often political parties stop on the edge of legality for the costs of election campaigns." Sending a message of honesty, he said that if he was made president of the Generalitat it would be an "honourable and transparent" administration.