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Because of the mountains, Catalans and Basques together could totally block Spain’s access to Europe by highway and railway, whether in the short or long-term. The road blocks halt-slow the movement of both legal and illegal goods, as well as people. This is clearly why Spain doesn’t want to let Catalonia or the Basques leave. Spain would lose its direct connection to Europe. If Catalonia leaves, it will also make the work of the many mafias, which make Spain home, more complicated. Spain is a critically important import hub for illegal drugs, as seen on the cocaine and opiate import maps further below.

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/infrastructure/tentec/tentec-portal/map/maps.html © European Union, 1995-2017

N-340: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N-340_road_(Spain)
A-7 (non-toll): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autov%C3%ADa_A-7
AP-7 (toll): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autopista_AP-7
On Tuesday morning Catalan protestors blocked the AP-7 from very early in the morning and the A-7 near the French border by 7:40 am, as well as the N340 which connects Catalonia to the southeast coast of Spain. Traffic was also blocked on highway A-2 near Lleida, in the west of the region. The two main north-south access roads to Barcelona were also blocked, for a short period. The protests caused traffic jams in both directions 70 km long (44 miles), and also impacted the national roads, especially N-II. Riot policed intervened around noon to remove protesters.

Protesters blocked Highway AP-7, A-7, A-2, as well as National highway, N340

The protests follow the arrest of Catalan President Puigdemont on Sunday, as well as imprisonment of other independence leaders. Puigdemont was arrested along the German-Danish border, because the Spanish government had put out an EU arrest warrant for him. Nine other independence leaders are currently in jail in Spain, pending trial. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/03/27/germany-dragged-into-spains-political-crisis-as-catalonia-protests-erupt-again-after-puigdemont-arrest-on-german-danish-border-under-eu-arrest-warrant-issued-by-spain. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/spain-detaining-an-additional-five-catalan-leaders-in-jail-pending-trial-others-in-exile-25-officials-to-be-put-on-trial/

Drug trafficking maps and more info: https://www.unodc.org/wdr2017/field/Booklet_1_EXSUM.pdf

See (in French): 24hrs dernières, 27 March 2018: http://youtu.be/OzSLa4v4oP0

France 3 Info: “Catalogne : l’autoroute bloquée par des manifestants à Figueras en Espagne“, https://web.archive.org/web/20180327115756/https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/occitanie/pyrenees-orientales/catalogne-autoroute-bloquee-manifestants-figueras-espagne-1447837.html

Roads Blocked in Catalonia in Protest at Leader’s Detention” March 27, 2018 9:08 AM, https://www.voanews.com/a/catalonia-roads-blocked/4318899.html