What Happened: Thousands of protesters are currently blocking roads in Barcelona and other large Catalonian cities after the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced nine local pro-independence politicians and activists to prison, Reuters reported Oct. 14.
Why It Matters: The verdict will further damage relations between the Spanish government and the Catalan pro-independence movement. While Madrid will likely attempt to ease tensions and manage unrest, it is unlikely to grant any significant concessions on the issue of a legally binding referendum.
Background: The Catalan parliament unilaterally declared independence from Spain in October 2017 after what Madrid declared to be an illegal referendum. Tensions with the Spanish government have since cooled down, mostly due to internal divisions in the pro-independence movement, but isolated events, such as court verdicts, could provide common ground for Catalonia's secessionist parties.
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