Plaça Salvador Puig Antich offers a view of the city of Barcelona from above. The viewpoint is located in the El Roquetes neighbourhood, the site of important protests held by local residents during the 1970s. Local residents were demanding improvements to public-transport access by the end of the Franco dictatorship and began serious acts of protest that included several bus hijackings.
This site in Nou Barris is dedicated to Salvador Puig Antich, the last Catalan executed by the Franco regime. Puig Antich was a member of the Iberian Liberation Movement (MIL) when he was arrested in 1973 in the midst of a shoot out with the police inside a doorway on Carrer Girona, in Eixample. He was judged by a military court and found guilty of killing the deputy police inspector Francisco Anguas Barragán in a trial that lacked even the minimum procedural safeguards. Puig Antich was eventually executed at the Model prison on 2 March 1974 at the age of 25. The square was renamed after him in 2006, although it was not until 10 years later that a plaque was put up and a sculpture-viewpoint officially unveiled evoking the step from imprisonment to freedom; that was in March 2016, marking the 42nd anniversary of his execution.
The viewpoint is located in the Roquetes neighbourhood, one of the areas in the city whose population increased exponentially during the Franco regime, as it took in a large number of the people who came to the city in search of a better future. It was at the start of the 1960s that local residents began to demand basic services such as schools, health-care facilities and public transport. However, the local residents’ proposals were rejected by the authorities.
In 1969 local residents asked the company Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) to extend several of its bus lines to the upper part of Roquetes, but the company argued that this would be impossible because several of the streets there were unpaved. Representatives of Roquetes’ local residents at the time decided to take the extreme measure of hijacking a bus and forcing it to drive to the top of the neighbourhood, to show that there were no urban obstacles. The protests did not achieve any positive response until the end of May 1974, when the number 11 bus route was extended, a solution that proved insufficient. This explains why local residents continued to hijack buses during the summer of that year. The local residents’ protests finally paid off because in July 1974 the 11 and 112 bus lines had their routes extended and a new line was created shortly afterwards connecting the Gràcia neighbourhood with Plaça de Llucmajor.
Residents form other districts close to Roquetes followed its example by demanding improvements in their area. Local residents of La Prosperitat hijacked a line 12 bus in 1977 and made it drive through Plaça Sant Jaume and by the house of the Mayor of Barcelona at the time, José María Socías Humbert, to demand the removal of the shanty towns in Pla de Santa Engràcia.
The last known hijacking took place on 7 May 1978 at Torre Baró, when Manuel Vital, a TMB bus driver and noted local-resident leader, “hijacked” the bus he was driving and took it to Torre Baró. People from the shanty towns climbed on board during the ride to show their support for his demands. Months later, the 47 bus line was extended to the Canyelles neighbourhood.
Address: Plaça Salvador Puig i Antich || Coordinates: (LAT, LONG): 41.450628000, 2.177784000