The Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has played down the participation in and result of the Barcelona popular vote on Catalan independence (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The non-binding referendum took place last Sunday and saw 18.4 percent of potential voters take part. Speaking at a press conference in China, where he is on an official visit, Zapatero was asked if he was worried about the high level of votes in favour of Catalan independence. "A high percentage?" he responded. "Well in the end, everyone has their own interpretation of 18 out of a 100. If it had been 40 percent, I would say it was impressive, and if it was 60, what would the adjective be? [But] it was 18 out of 100." He added that it is known that the model used, to which the Spanish government attributes no legal value, was one that his administration doesn't agree with.
Eleven people were injured in a fire in a building in Barceloneta in the early hours of this morning (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). One person was seriously injured with second-degree burns on 20 percent of their body, while 10 more were affected by smoke inhalation. The building, at number 19 in carrer Berenguer Mallol, is currently being renovated. The alarm was raised at 4.50 this morning and the fire was put out within an hour; however, the fire services continued watering down the building and inspecting the building to determine the exact damages caused. The structure of the building is not in danger, according to sources from the fire department. Nine fire engines and six ambulances attended the incident. According to the fire department, there were 12 people in the building, most of whom were immigrants. Neighbours said that the building was in a very bad condition and had been undergoing renovation works for years.
The annual Fira de Abril is to receive a double subsidy from Barcelona city council this year (read article in Catalan here, Avui). While the council has decided to maintain the 2010 level of its financial help to the event, which celebrates Andalucian culture, with a subsidy of €85,000, there is another sum of money that will also be used to help with the costs of the Fira, although it's not being described as such in the official figures of the Ajuntament. The district of Sant Martí, headed by Francesc Narvàez and the area where the Fira will take place, is contributing €12,000 to finance the setting-up of marquees that will be used by two Andalucian associations from the district that will be taking part in the Fira. This is not the first time that Sant Martí has provided such financial assistance, with €27,000 being spent on similar ends last year.