February 22, 2018

Where Is Catalonia? Region's Independence Movement Seeks Sovereignty

07 October 2017, 12:46 | Marlene Fleming

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Addressing the nation Tuesday evening local time, Spain's King Felipe VI deemed Catalonia's referendum vote "illegal and undemocratic", adding that the question of its independence should be handled through what he called legitimate channels. The autonomous Catalan government has called for worldwide mediation.

"They have placed themselves totally outside the law and democracy", he said of the Catalan leadership.

Riot police violently attempted to quell what the Spanish constitution dictates was an illegal vote in Catalonia, using pepper spray and rubber bullets - the latter illegal in the area - to deter prospective voters, while also forcing their way into polling stations and seizing ballot boxes.

Just as he spoke to reporters, Catalans took to the streets of central Barcelona in droves to protest the violence, cutting roads to traffic and shouting: "The streets will always be ours", a phrase that has become the slogan of the pro-referendum movement.

Several thousand people gatherered outside the regional headquarters of Spain's ruling Popular Party, chanting, "Occupiers out!", reports European news network The Local.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government replied that Puigdemont had wasted an opportunity to put Catalonia back on a legal course.

Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia's regional government, has offered his support to protesters.

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The Spanish region of Catalonia should be allowed to determine its own future, Scotland's devolved pro-independence government said, adding that the strength of Catalan feeling could not be ignored by the global community.

The EU executive called again on Wednesday for the Spanish government and Catalan authorities to open a dialogue.

Tensions between Catalonia and the national government have plunged Spain into its worst political crisis in decades.

Per the Guardian's translation, the king said the Catalan government had "eroded the harmony and co-existent within Catalan society itself, managing, unfortunately, to divide it".

Maduro contrasted the crackdown with his own administration's handling of an unofficial July 16 opposition plebiscite, which asked voters if they wanted the national armed forces to intervene to "restore the constitutional order".

The clash between Madrid and the rebel administration in Barcelona is escalating again after the king, whose word traditionally carries weight in Spain, sought to impose his authority in a televised statement on Tuesday night.

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