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Catalan separatists protest Spanish cabinet visit
Six hundred police officers were deployed to Barcelona to prevent possible violence, despite calls by jailed separatist leaders to keep the protests peaceful. More than one year after an illegal referendum on a split from Spain, the country's wealthy northeastern region is still bitterly divided. On Thursday (December 20), Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez met with Catalonia's regional leader Quim Torra. They both expressed a commitment to dialogue in a symbolic joint declaration to ease tensions over Catalonia's ambitions to split from Spain. But the meeting prompted criticism from the center-right opposition People's Party and Ciudadanos, who accused Sanchez of "humiliation." The prime minister's choice of venue for Friday's cabinet meeting was seen as a show of resolve against full independence and it angered separatists. Elsewhere in the region, demonstrators blocked roads while one man was arrested in central Barcelona carrying materials that, police said, could be used to build an explosive device.