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MADRID – The Latest on the political crisis in Catalonia (all times local):
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says next month's elections in Catalonia should open "a new political era" in the northeastern region with the return to normality and respect for the country's laws.
The conservative leader has defended his government's imposed controls in the northeastern region in the wake of an independence bid by separatist politicians.
Rajoy sacked the separatist Catalan authorities, who are facing possible rebellion charges, dissolved the regional government and has called a snap regional election for Dec. 21.
"I hope that elections open a new political era of coexistence, in which the rules are respected and the Spanish economy recovers," Rajoy said in parliament Wednesday when asked by opposition lawmakers about the extraordinary controls that have led to central authorities to rule directly Catalonia.
Protesters have blocked roads and stopped commuter trains as Catalonia faces a general strike in the wake of unprecedented controls in the region by Spanish central authorities to crush an independence bid.
Intersindical CSC, a platform that groups pro-independence workers' unions, had called the strike for Wednesday to push for labor rights. But the call comes at a sensitive political moment, and separatist parties and civil society groups asked workers to join the stoppage to protest the jailing of activists and ousted Catalan government officials.
Spanish authorities took direct control of Catalonia after regional lawmakers passed an independence declaration on Oct. 27. An early election has been called for next month to replace the sacked regional government.
Among dozens of roads blocked, protesters cut the traffic on the AP7 motorway north of Girona, one of the main arteries connecting France and Spain.