February 24, 2019
By Miguel Pereira and Luis Felipe Fernandez
BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) – Hundreds of people took to the streets of Barcelona on Sunday to protest against a visit by Spain’s King Felipe VI to the Catalonia region that made a failed bid to secede in 2017.
The king has become a polarizing figure in Catalonia since making a rare political intervention at the height of the secession crisis, when he called pro-independence leaders irresponsible and undemocratic.
He visited regional capital Barcelona on Sunday to host a dinner for a mobile phone industry meeting.
Catalan separatists burned photographs of the king and blocked roads in downtown Barcelona.
Protesters carried banners with slogans such as “Stop Repression” and “Rotten Bourbons”, referring to Spain’s royal house. They threw eggs at the regional police at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) where the dinner was held.
The king’s presence in Barcelona comes at a delicate moment for Spanish politics as twelve Catalan separatist leaders are being tried in Madrid over the independence drive.
Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called early elections for April 28 after Catalan pro-independence parties joined opposition parties in defeating his 2019 budget bill.
(Writing and additional reporting by Jesús Aguado; Editing by Peter Graff)