Large numbers of Catalans have taken part in a general strike to condemn police violence at a banned weekend referendum on independence, as Madrid comes under growing international pressure to resolve its worst political crisis in decades. Schools and universities were shut on Tuesday and unions reported that most small businesses were closed after unions called for the stoppage to “vigorously condemn” the police response to the poll, in which Catalonia’s leader said 90% of voters had backed independence from Spain. “An attack on democracy without precedent in recent times calls for a united response,” said Javier Pacheco, the secretary general in Catalonia of the Comisiones Obreras union. “We have called on all sectors to take part.” No public transport will be available between 9am and 5pm in Barcelona, and in Tarragona the municipal bus service was cancelled. In the Ebro delta, the rice harvest was halted for the day.
Barcelona’s public universities were expected to join the strike, as was the contemporary art museum and the Sagrada Familia, the basilica designed by Antoni Gaudí and one of the city’s most popular tourist sites.
FC Barcelona said it would take part in the strike, adding that it would close its headquarters and that none of its professional or youth teams would train.
Demonstrations have been called to begin at noon and Britain’s Foreign Office warned travellers to expect further disruption in the region over the coming days.