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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:56 pm 
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Brazil land occupation movement targets agriculture minister's soy farm
25 July 2017

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Hundreds of landless farmers in Brazil have invaded and occupied a soybean plantation owned by a company belonging to Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi.

The takeover by some 500 people was organized by the Landless Rural Workers' Movement, which encourages the seizure of farmland it deems unproductive as a tactic to pressure the government. The movement said in a statement that Tuesday's occupation was part of a campaign to promote land reform and also a protest against corruption and the administration of President Michel Temer.

Amaggi, the company owned by Maggi, confirmed the invasion of the 480 hectare (1,200 acre) farm in the central-western state of Mato Grosso. Amaggi said in a statement it would take the legal measures to evict the protesters.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:45 am 
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Hundreds protest in Oakland over deadly Virginia rally
August 12, 2017

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Hundreds of protesters are marching in Oakland, California to decry racism in the wake of deadly violence that erupted at a white nationalist demonstration in Virginia.

Protesters gathered Saturday night to hear speakers and then marched peacefully downtown, chanting and waving signs and banners. Although a few cars were held up by the march, police say the demonstration is peaceful and there have been no arrests.

The hastily arranged gathering is in response to events earlier Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia. A car plowed into a crowd that was peacefully protesting a white nationalist rally, killing one person and injuring 19. Authorities say an Ohio man driving the car was charged with second-degree murder. A smaller rally held in Los Angeles Saturday night was peaceful.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:35 am 
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Barcelona residents protest unchecked growth of mass tourism
12 August 2017

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Around a hundred Barcelona residents have gathered on the Spanish city's beach to protest the unchecked growth of mass tourism to the popular vacation destination.

The protest was organized Saturday by a local residents' group under the theme "Recover the beach for everyone!" They say the influx of tourists has increased the price of rents and driven a spike in rowdy behavior by party-seeking foreigners.

Tensions have been growing between authorities and radical leftist groups who launched a campaign of vandalism against mass tourism in Barcelona and other parts of Spain. Spain, a country of 46 million, received 75.3 million tourists in 2016. The number of arriving tourists increased by 12 percent in the first six months of this year. Tourism accounts for 11 percent of Spain's gross domestic product.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:33 pm 
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People from across Europe protest logging in Polish forest
13 August 2017

WARSAW (AP) -- Hundreds of people have gathered in an ancient forest in Poland to protest the widespread logging the government has ordered there.

The Bialowieza Forest, one of Europe's last primeval woodlands and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the subject of a heated political dispute over the logging ordered by Poland's conservative ruling Law and Justice party. Environmentalists and the European Union oppose the logging, while the government argues it is necessary to fight a bark beetle infestation.

Environmentalists from Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe joined Polish activists on Sunday to oppose what they see as destruction of the natural site. The government has defied a July order by the EU's Court of Justice to immediately stop the cutting.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 5:11 am 
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Thousands march in Boston against racism and hate
By Gretel Johnston
August 19, 2017

Washington (dpa) - Thousands of people took to the streets of the east coast US city of Boston on Saturday to demonstrate against racism and hate, one week after a march by neo-Nazis and white nationalists through Charlottesville turned violent.

People holding posters that read, "Black Lives Matter" and "Resist Trump Racism" turned up for the rally, which was held to counter a smaller "Free Speech" rally. The "Free Speech" rally ended a few hours after it started, police said on Twitter. Police escorted speakers and participants off the Boston Common, a large open space in the city centre, the Boston Globe reported.

There were some tense moments during the march when the opposing groups came close to counter-demonstrators, according to news reports. But no serious incidents were reported. Authorities in the city, wary that the march could turn violent, deployed hundreds of police officers. They urged people to stay away from the area and formed police lines to keep demonstrators and counter-protesters separated.

Boston officials were concerned because the march and rally in their city came one week after a white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent. One woman was killed and 19 were injured in a car-ramming there, and numerous other people were injured when demonstrators and counter-demonstrators brawled in the streets.

The Boston free speech rally was scheduled before the events in Virginia, and its organizers distanced themselves from the violence that broke out there. Authorities were concerned that ultra-rightists could mix in among the participants in Boston. Two right-wing extremists were scheduled to address the rally, the Boston Globe reported.

The free speech march and rally was much smaller than the counter-demonstration, according to eye-witness reports on Twitter. The counter-demonstrators shouted, "No hate, no fear, Nazi's are not welcome here!" according to a Twitter post.

Backers of the free speech rally also posted messages on Twitter saying people allied with the "Alt Left" turned out and tried to shut down their free speech. Police granted organizers a permit to hold the march but placed restrictions on the number of participants to head off potential violence.

City officials said Friday there would be rolling street closures along the march's predetermined route to maintain order. Boston police chief William B Evans said he had been in contact with event organizers from several groups and was working with them to make sure the march is safe and peaceful. Evans also said both undercover and uniformed police officers will be "working the crowd really closely."

Source: dpa

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:09 pm 
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Protests held in 6 Romanian cities over judicial changes
27 August 2017

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- More than 1,000 people have participated in protests in Romania's capital and other cities to show opposition to against proposed changes to the judicial system.

Demonstrators gathered outside government offices in Bucharest on Sunday called the ruling Social Democratic Party "the red plague" and yelled "A government of thieves and Mafioso!" People took to the streets in half a dozen cities around the country to protest the proposals submitted by Justice Minister Tudorel Toader.

Toader recommended having the president no longer appoint the general prosecutor and the chief anti-corruption prosecutor, a main function of Romania's presidency. He also suggested a process to punish prosecutors and judges for erroneous rulings and prosecutions. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has criticized the proposal. Protesters said it would slow efforts to root out corruption.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:51 pm 
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29 trucks burned in attack by Mapuche in Chile, no injuries reported
28 August 2017

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A police investigator walks past a row of charred trucks in San Jose de La Mariquina, in Chile's Los Rios region, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017.
(Miguel Angel Bustos/Aton Chile via AP)

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- Twenty-nine were burned in the south-central part of Chile early Monday, a week after 18 trucks were torched in neighboring areas.

Authorities said the latest arson attack happened before dawn in Los Rios region, about 500 miles (800 kilometers) south of the Chilean capital. The region borders an area where activists in the Mapuche indigenous group are demanding recovery of ancestral territory. Prosecutors say a handwritten pamphlet signed by the Mapuche group Weichan Auka Mapu was found at the site. The group has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks in the bordering Araucania region.

A radical faction of Mapuche in Araucania has occupied and burned farms and lumber trucks to demand the return of land. Police have been accused of violent abuses, including storming into Mapuche homes during raids and shooting rubber bullets indiscriminately at women and children.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:44 pm 
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Angry Greek police kick off 2-day anti-austerity protests
8 September 2017

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) -- Hundreds of Greek police officers, backed by colleagues from other uniformed services, have staged a protest in the country's second-largest city against austerity measures in the bailout-hit country.

The officers, carrying black helium-filled balloons, marched through the center of Thessaloniki on Friday. The march launched two days of protests against state spending cuts that have been imposed for the past seven years to meet the demands of international creditors. The cuts have caused a steep rise in poverty levels in Greece.

Many of the officers at Friday's rally will be on duty over the weekend when other demonstrations are planned by Greek unions and left-wing protest groups. The rallies were timed to coincide with a visit to the city by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is inaugurating an annual international trade fair.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:04 pm 
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Argentine protesters demand answers about missing activist
By LUIS ANDRES HENAO
1 September 2017

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Tens of thousands of Argentines demonstrated in cities across the country on Friday holding photos of a missing activist who was last seen when border police evicted a group of indigenous Mapuche from lands in Patagonia owned by Italian clothing company Benetton.

Demonstrators in the Argentine capital marched to the Plaza de Mayo square in front of the presidential palace to demand the government find 28-year-old Santiago Maldonado alive. The march marked the one-month anniversary of Maldonado's disappearance. Since then, everyone - from soccer great Diego Maradona to Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla to politicians from opposing political parties - have joined human rights activists in a social media campaign under the slogan: "Where is Santiago Maldonado?"

The disappearance has hit a raw nerve in Argentina, where human rights groups estimate that about 30,000 people died or were forcibly disappeared during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. "We've gone back in time 40 years. I can't accept it," said Rosa de Roisinblit, 98, the vice president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo human rights groups. During the dictatorship years, she marched every week in the same square in Buenos Aires, fighting alongside other women in the group to recover their children and grandchildren. "I can't believe that this is happening in a constitutional, democratically-elected government," she said.

Friday's march was largely peaceful but at the end clashes erupted between groups that had apparently infiltrated the march and police.

Maldonado's case has become problematic for the government of President Mauricio Macri as human rights groups accuse it of being part of a cover up and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has urged Argentina to find the missing artisan and tattoo artist. Maldonado's family says border police detained him when he and others were blocking a road in Chubut province, in the southern region of Patagonia. Authorities deny wrongdoing.

Maldonado's case is being investigated as a forced disappearance. But in a report published by local media authored by local prosecutor Silvina Avila to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, she says that there is no proof yet that border police were involved in the disappearance.

Maldonado had joined the Mapuche cause while living in southern Argentina. The Aug. 1 protesters were demanding the release of Facundo Jones Huala, an imprisoned Mapuche leader who is wanted by Chile. The lands belong to Compania de Tierras Sud Argentino, a wool-producing company owned by Benetton. Mapuches claim the lands as their ancestral territory and have been occupying them since 2015.

Some members of the Mapuche indigenous community have told reporters on condition of anonymity that Maldonado was taken by border police. But they have yet to ratify the information to authorities. "We want a serious and impartial investigation," Santiago's brother, Sergio Maldonado, told demonstrators on Friday. "How much more must we ask ourselves: Where is Santiago?"

Associated Press writer Debora Rey contributed to this report.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:26 pm 
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Togo police beat opposition protesters, fire tear gas
By ERICK KAGLAN
8 September 2017

LOME, Togo (AP) -- Security forces in Togo beat peaceful protesters and fired tear gas to disperse thousands of opposition supporters who urged the president to step down, witnesses said, as anger in the small West African nation grows over the Gnassingbe family's 50 years in power.

Opposition supporters dressed in orange and red were playing music, cooking and singing in the capital's main square when police moved in late Thursday. The sit-in followed two days of demonstrations demanding the return of the country's 1992 constitution, which included presidential term limits. Internet service has been down in the country of 7 million during the protests.

"The severe reaction of the security forces against largely peaceful protesters is a clear violation of the freedom of peaceful assembly," said Francois Patuel, Amnesty International's West Africa researcher.

Parliament says it will vote Tuesday on a draft bill that would return to the 1992 constitution, though it has not provided a copy of the draft or further details. Two years ago a similar bill was rejected in Parliament, where the ruling party holds a majority of seats.

The opposition parties also demand that Togo's diaspora population of 2 million have the right to vote in the 2020 presidential elections. The opposition seeks the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe. While Gnassingbe has not said he will run in 2020, the opposition National Panafrican Party has said it suspects he will not quit power unless he is compelled to do so.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative for West Africa, met with the president and opposition parties on Thursday to urge dialogue. Chambas said he remains convinced that all sides want to move toward a consensus "to meet the legitimate expectations of the Togolese people."

Gnassingbe took over in 2005 after the death of his father, Eyadema, who ruled for 38 years and modified the constitution to extend his rule. The constitution had allowed for two five-year terms. Later in 2005, Gnassingbe won elections marred by allegations of fraud and followed by deadly protests. He won re-election in 2010 and in 2015.

The latest protests began last month, with security forces killing at least two people and injuring several others, Amnesty International said. Dozens were sent to prison for up to 60 months, according to the human rights group. The government condemned the protests, with the interior minister calling them extremist.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:52 pm 
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Clash over Catalan vote heats up in Spain as police swoop in
By ARITZ PARRA and CIARAN GILES
20 September 2017

MADRID (AP) -- Thousands of people supporting a contested referendum to split Catalonia from Spain took to Barcelona's streets amid an intensifying government crackdown on the independence vote that included the arrests of a dozen regional officials Wednesday and the seizure of 10 million ballot papers.

The arrests - the first involving Catalan officials since the campaign to hold an independence vote began in earnest in 2011 - prompted the regional government and some of its supporters to say casting a ballot was as much about dignity as whether to break away from Spain. Regional Catalan officials so far have vowed to ignore a Constitutional Court order to suspend the Oct. 1 referendum while judges assess its legality.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned them of "greater harm" if they don't drop the referendum bid, which he called a "totalitarian act." "Disobedience of the law by a part of the political power is the opposite of democracy, it means an imposition, an injustice, the violation of people's rights and an attack to democracy," Rajoy said in a televised appearance on Wednesday night. "If you care about the tranquility of most Catalans, give up this escalation of radicalism and disobedience," the conservative leader said, addressing Catalan officials directly. "You are on time to avoid a greater harm."

Catalan nationalists argue that self-determination is an inalienable right that can't be curbed by any constitution. The prime minister's determination to prevent the ballot has backing from the main Spanish opposition parties.

Some members of Rajoy's conservative government have even referred to the standoff as democratic Spain's greatest political crisis since 1981, a failed coup attempt in the country's parliament that came only three years after the official end of Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship.

Spanish Interior Ministry officials would not identify the arrested regional officials, saying the investigation was ongoing. The Catalan regional government confirmed that among them were Josep Maria Jove, secretary general of economic affairs, and Lluis Salvado, secretary of taxation. Jove is the No. 2 to the region's vice president and economy chief, Oriol Junqueras.

The Catalonia branch of Spain's High Court said Wednesday that some 20 people were being investigated for alleged disobedience, abuse of power and embezzlement related to the referendum. Police acting on a judge's orders searched 42 premises, including six regional government offices, officials' private offices and homes, as well as three companies in Barcelona, the court said in a statement.

The arrests risked stoking public anger in Catalonia, where pro-independence passions can run high. Several thousand independence supporters gathered to angrily protest the raids outside government offices in Barcelona, which is Catalonia's capital. Some demonstrators sat down in the street to block police cars, while a few scuffled with police officers.

Later, protesters rejoiced when National Police officers left the headquarters of the anti-establishment CUP political party. The officers waited hours for a judge to sign off on a warrant to search the premises for referendum-related propaganda, but the permission never came.

Protests also occurred in other Catalan towns and in Spain's capital, Madrid. There were no reports of arrests and one person was reported injured, according to the regional police.

At the demonstration outside the Catalan regional ministry of economy, protester Charo Rovira said she felt sad at the turn of events. "Catalonia is practically in a state of siege," she said. She added that the arrested politicians were merely acting according to the will of the people.

Catalonia's president, Carles Puigdemont, blasted the police operations as "unlawful" and accused the national government of adopting a "totalitarian attitude." He accused Madrid of bringing a state of emergency to Catalonia and of effectively cancelling the northeastern region's self-rule. His televised statement came as Spain's Finance Ministry said it was imposing further controls over the Catalan government's finances to ensure no public money is used for the referendum. Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro's order means that virtually all of Catalonia's public spending will be handled in Madrid and that no credits could be requested for non-essential payments.

Catalonia represents a fifth of Spain's 1.1-trillion-euro ($1.32 trillion) economy and enjoys wide self-government authority, although key areas such as infrastructure and taxes are in the hands of central authorities. The region's 7.5 million inhabitants overwhelmingly favor holding a referendum, but are roughly evenly divided over independence.

As part of the crackdown, police confiscated nearly 10 million ballot papers, the Interior Ministry said. Polling station signs and documents for election officers were also seized during a raid on a warehouse in a small town outside Barcelona. "Today the government of Rajoy has crossed a very dangerous red line," Jordi Sanchez, president of Catalan National Assembly, a civic group leading the independence drive said. "We will do all we can for democracy and freedom to prevail."

Barcelona Football Club, which is popular around the world, waded into the controversy, too. The soccer team said it "condemns any act that may impede the free exercise of (democratic) rights" and vowed to "continue to support the will of the majority of Catalan people, and will do so in a civil, peaceful, and exemplary way."

Spain's Interior Ministry canceled time off and scheduled leave for Civil Guard and National Police officers who are being deployed to ensure the vote doesn't happen. It gave no details on the number of agents involved.

AP photographer Emilio Morenatti and videographer Hernan Munoz contributed from Barcelona. Barry Hatton contributed from Lisbon, Portugal.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:58 pm 
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Boy killed at huge protests over Togo president's tenure
By ERICK KAGLAN
20 September 2017

LOME, Togo (AP) -- A 10-year-old boy was killed and 10 others injured in Togo's capital as hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters demonstrated Wednesday against a vote by the West African nation's parliament on a bill they fear will allow the president to run for more terms, the security minister said.

Togo's security minister Col. Damehame Yark blamed opposition members for the violence, saying they brought weapons to the demonstrations. Thousands of people across the small West African nation have been demonstrating since last month for term limits on President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been in power since his father died in 2005. The Gnassingbe family has ruled the small West African nation for 50 years.

Security forces killed at least two people and injured several others in demonstrations in August, and used tear gas to break up another peaceful protest this month.

The ruling party voted Tuesday in favor of a draft bill that the opposition says does not include a sentence outlining term limits for the president. The bill will need be submitted for a referendum vote by the people next month before it is enforced as a law, parliament chair Dama Dramani said. Opposition lawmakers have demanded the reinstatement of Togo's 1992 Constitution in its original form, which only allowed a president to serve two terms.

Patrick Lawson, a spokesman of the main ANC opposition party, said the bill introduced two weeks ago did not take into account the amendments the opposition wanted. "The country's voting list is not credible. Besides, the electoral commission and the constitutional court have allegiance to the ruling party. So we don't approve the idea of a referendum," Lawson said. Christophe Tchao, a spokesman for the ruling party, said the party has showed openness.

Thousands of ruling party supporters also were in the streets Wednesday. Some wore white T-shirts that read "Don't touch my president."

While Gnassingbe has not said he would run again in 2020, the opposition has said it suspects he will not step down unless compelled to either through reforms in parliament or citizen protests. Gnassingbe's father ruled for 38 years. Before his death, he modified the Constitution to extend his rule.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:35 pm 
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Students rally in Barcelona to defend Catalan vote
28 September 2017

BARCELONA (AFP) - At least 10,000 striking high school and university students rallied in Barcelona on Thursday to defend Catalonia's right to hold an independence referendum which has been banned by Madrid.

The students, many draped in red and yellow Catalan independence flags, gathered outside a building at the University of Barcelona in the centre of the Catalan capital. "We will vote!" and "Independence!" they chanted as they marched along the Gran Via, one of Barcelona's main avenues, blocking traffic.

"The majority of young people are separatists, and if they weren't, they have become separatist after seeing what Spain has done in recent weeks," 16-year-old high school student Aina Gomez told AFP.

Opinion polls show Catalans are split on the issue of independence, but a large majority want to vote in a legitimate referendum to settle the matter. Over the past few days, judges and prosecutors have ordered the seizure of electoral material including millions of ballot papers, the closure of websites linked to the vote and the detention of key members of the team organising the referendum.

The electoral board set up to oversee the vote has been dissolved, and on Tuesday prosecutors ordered police to seal off places to be used as polling stations and guard them until Sunday. "If such a large number of people as exists in Catalonia want to separate from the country, they have to be allowed to vote," said 15-year-old student Pau Cabrinety. Only six of the 30 students in his class at a Barcelona high school did not take part in the strike, he added.

Some students have said they may occupy schools and universities that could be used as polling station in Sunday's referendum in the wealthy northeastern region of Spain which is home to some 7.5 million people.

Catalonia's regional police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, warned Wednesday that there was a risk of a "disruption of public order" if police sealed polling stations as they have been instructed to do.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:13 pm 
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Zimbabwe police fire teargas to disperse bank chief protests
29 September 2017

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwean police in the capital Harare on Friday fired teargas to break up protests against the country's worsening economic crisis as rising prices fuel opposition to President Robert Mugabe's regime.

Demonstrators led by the anti-government pressure group Tajamuka (We Are Agitated) demanded the resignation of central bank chief John Mangudya over severe cash shortages. Shops in the city centre pulled down their shutters and currency traders fled their pavement stalls as dozens of anti-riot police patrolled the streets, AFP witnessed.

"We demonstrated against the worsening economic and fiscal crisis in the country," Promise Mkwananzi, spokesman for Tajamuka, told AFP by telephone. "We are calling on the reserve bank of Zimbabwe governor to resign." The police spokeswoman declined comment on the demonstration.

Zimbabwe in 2009 abandoned its own currency in favour of the US dollar due to hyperinflation. Last year it introduced "bond notes", a parallel currency pegged to the US dollar, but recent price rises in basic goods such as cooking oil and sugar have revived fears of another inflation boom. In 2016, a series of large street protests against the economic crisis under Mugabe were halted by a security crackdown.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:29 pm 
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Catalans challenge Spanish authority with huge strike
3 October 2017

Barcelona (dpa) - Catalonia's nationalists mounted a fresh challenge to Spanish authority over the region with a general strike Tuesday that paralysed Barcelona and several motorways, but stayed peaceful.

The protest was called after Catalan authorities accused police of injuring 893 people, including four taken to hospital, as they attempted to suppress Sunday's unauthorized independence referendum, seizing election materials from schools and other public buildings. Thousands of people marched through Barcelona, staging major protests outside the headquarters of the National Police and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's People's Party (PP) and by a school where riot-geared officers used rubber bullets.

Domingo, a state employee who voted Sunday to stay with Spain, told dpa that he decided to join the protest - called by trade unions and separatist groups - in disgust at "the violence used by law enforcement forces." Barcelona's public transport was closed for most of the day, as were its port and many shops, some forced by pickets. Roadblocks appeared in dozens of Catalonia's highways, but the region's biggest employer, the Seat car factory in Martorell, stayed open. FC Barcelona football club suspended training in support of the strike.

"Today is a day for democratic, civic-minded and dignified protests. Let us not fall in to provocations. The world has seen it: we are peaceful people," Catalan President Carles Puigdemont wrote on Twitter.

However, the climate is getting nastier for Spanish police officers. An extra 10,000 were deployed in Catalonia ahead of the referendum, but after Sunday's clashes, many of them face open hostility from the local population. Starting Monday, hundreds of officers were evicted from their hotels, after crowds assembled outside. "We do not want hotels in Callella to turn into barracks," said the mayor of Calella, one of the cities where confrontations took place, Montserrat Candini.

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria compared local authorities' support for the eviction of Spanish police forces from hotels to "Mafia-type behaviour" which "we are not going to tolerate."

On Monday, Puigdemont called for the withdrawal of all Spanish police forces from Catalonia, where policing is already mostly in the hands of the local force, the Mossos d'Esquadra. On Sunday, they where also supposed to stop the referendum, but acted very cautiously.

Catalonia's referendum took place despite attempts to stop it, but without proper oversight. Catalan authorities said 2.2 million people voted, and 90 per cent of them backed independence. But the turnout was only 42 per cent.

Unionists, who mostly boycotted the ballot, are described as a silent majority. "We are alone here. The Spanish government is not doing anything and they have left us to our own destiny. We cannot [even] put the flag of our country on our balcony because they call us fascists," 50-year-old Maria Medina told dpa.

On Sunday, Rajoy defended police interventions, saying "we did what we had to do" to stop the "illegal" ballot. The PP parliamentary speaker, Rafael Hernando, on Tuesday painted Catalan nationalists as extremists, telling Spanish radio RNE that "today's general strike in Catalonia is not industrial but political, of a Nazi nature."

On Monday, Puigdemont said there is "no other option" but to follow through with independence plans, but also called on the European Union to mediate in the crisis, suggesting he may hold off from unilateral moves if Brussels intervened.

Source: dpa

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