Spain: Government Amps Up Attempts to Prevent Catalan Independence Referendum


Basically, yes. But tensions have escalated significantly this week after Spanish Guardia Civil officers raided a dozen regional government premises in Barcelona and arrested 14 senior officials, including Catalonia's secretary general of economic affairs and the secretary of taxation.

The Guardia Civil, which acts with the authority of Madrid's interior ministry, is searching for evidence regarding the planned 1 October referendum on Catalan independence, which Spain's constitutional court has deemed to be illegal.

They also sing the song dubbed Els Segadors (The Reapers in Catalan), which is the official anthem of the region and carry the Estelada flags, which are symbols of regional independence.

The raid came as part of an ongoing police and judicial operation by Spanish authorities to try to halt the referendum called by the pro-independence Catalan government.

When news of the events spread, people started gathering outside the finance ministry in Barcelona.

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The club "will continue to support the will of the majority of Catalan people, and will do so in a civil, peaceful, and exemplary way", reads the communique. According to Catalonia, Spain's wealthiest region, the people received less than they paid to the national budget.

After an emergency cabinet meeting, Puigdemont accused Madrid of imposing a state of emergency and a "de facto" suspension of the region's autonomy.

He said Spain has a written constitution, which was "submitted to the vote of all Spaniards in 1978 and approved by 87.7% (and 91.4% of the Catalonian voters), which makes the rules of the game clear".

Carles Puigdemont, the regional leader, denounced Wednesday's operation as "a coordinated aggression by the Spanish government's police force" in order to stop the Catalans from going ahead with the October 1 vote.

The Spanish government is taking aggressive actions to prevent holding a poll for independence due next month.

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She said the 2014 Scottish independence referendum was the best example for Catalonia to follow.

And it has threatened to arrest mayors who facilitate the vote if they do not comply with a criminal probe in the matter and has tightened control over the region's finances.

Among those arrested on September 20 was Josep Maria Jove, secretary general of economic affairs and Catalonia's deputy vice president, a regional government spokesman said.

The reasons for Mr Jove's arrest were not immediately clear, but Spain's central government had warned that officials who help stage the referendum could face criminal charges.

"The issue that is at stake today isn't the independence - or not - of Catalonia", Raül Romeva, Catalonia's foreign affairs chief, told a group of foreign correspondents in Madrid on Wednesday, "but democracy in Spain and the European Union". The Catalan government sources could not confirm the other arrests.

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