Spain’s King Felipe will visit Barcelona on Friday, along with the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez. They will take part in the Barcelona New Economy Week awards ceremony. They will also visit a start-up called 3D Factory Incubator in Barcelona’s Zona Franca industrial estate. The visit will prompt some pro-independence protests in Catalonia.

Indeed, CDR activists have already announced that they will rally against the crown on Friday. “The CDR group will be there to remind him that he is not welcome here,” a tweet of the pro-independence organization read. The group has not revealed the time they will be rallying as the timings of Felipe’s agenda have not been disclosed.

The Catalan vice president, Pere Aragonès, will not attend the awards ceremony on Friday. The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, also declined for political reasons. Aragonès’ party colleague Marta Vilalta said on Monday that Felipe VI “is not welcome in Catalonia.” The deputy secretary general of Esquerra (ERC) said that if the king “dared to come to the country,” he should “at the very least, apologize to all the people who suffered police violence” during the 2017 independence push.

Eva Granados of the Catalan Socialists, however, said that the government should go to the event. “The normal thing would be that, if their diary allows, it is necessary for the government to attend.” On the other hand, Jéssica Albiach from the anti-austerity Catalunya en Comú–Podem urged the Spanish king to deal with the corruption scandals engulfing his predecessor. “Instead of coming to Catalonia I think the king should go to the UAE and bring back his father to show his face and return the money he owes everyone.”

Earlier demonstrations

On July 21, for example, Felipe visited the iconic Poblet monastery and hundreds of activists protested at around a kilometer’s distance as they were barred from approaching the religious site that had been cordoned off by police.

On November 4, 2019, the monarch attended an awards ceremony in the Catalan capital and thousands of protesters rallied around the hotel where the event was held, blocking one of the main roads in and out of Barcelona for hours.

On September 26, the Spanish government denied approval for King Felipe to visit Barcelona for an annual judicial event for reasons related to “guaranteeing the security” of the monarch. The main right-wing Spanish parties, the conservative associations of judges, and the leadership of Spain’s judiciary (CGPJ) were infuriated at what they interpreted as a “veto” on Felipe. Later on the day, it was leaked that Felipe had called the president of CGPJ to tell him that “he would have liked” to attend.

Juan Carlos Campo said on Monday that the head of state’s visit is a sign of a return to “normality.” He argued that now it is suitable for Felipe to attend events in Catalonia because the anniversary of the 2017 referendum has already passed and the Supreme Court’s verdict on Quim Torra, ousting him as president, is already out.

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