April 22, 2018

Catalonia to vote on independence from Spain despite arrests, fines, police threat

01 October 2017, 12:48 | Clyde Nash

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People with the estelada, or independence flags, shout slogans on top of parked tractors during a protest by farmers in Barcelona.

This video shows the unity rally outside Plaza Mayor in Valladolid, in the autonomous community of Castile and León.

The Spanish government says the referendum on independence for the northeastern region is unconstitutional and the country's Constitutional Court has suspended the vote so it could consider the matter.

The row between Madrid and the Catalan government, which saw regional government offices raided and several politicians arrested, has sparked angry large-scale protests over recent weeks.

The European Union (EU) has also hit out at the vote, claiming a hypothetical independence Catalonia would effective sacrifice its place in the bloc and have to re-apply for membership.

There have been 1,300 schools shut down in the area that were earmarked as polling places, and 163 of those schools were occupied by families.

After Rajoy met with his cabinet in Madrid, his government repeated its pledge that the referendum wouldn't happen.

"It's evident that the government's actions have changed some conditions, but what it hasn't changed, in fact what I think has improved, is will of the people to vote", said Puigdemont in an interview on Thursday with Spanish digital media outlet,

Police in Barcelona and Catalonia have sealed off 1,300 polling stations to prevent tomorrow's independence referendum going ahead, the Spanish government has declared.

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Bastarreche said: "Most countries have written constitutions, and the Spanish one is a product of our 500-year history, and one of its central principles is the indivisibility of the kingdom".

The Election Monitoring Committee has been disbanded, and thousands of police officers have been deployed to block entry to the polls.

The Catalan government is pressing ahead with a referendum in the face of obstruction by the Spanish executive, judiciary and the police. He said his supporters would cast ballots on Sunday as planned.

But, other polls have indicated that the 7.5 million Catalans are divided on the question of independence.

On Saturday, a Catalan government spokesman said at least four police officers had entered the centre in Barcelona which controls the regional government's telecommunications and IT and were expected to stay there for two days.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for FC Barcelona if Catalonia gets its independence.

Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont, who openly favors breaking away from Spain, is among those promoting the independence vote.

Numerous British commentators have suggested that the Spanish government should follow the example of Cameron's coalition government, which granted the Scottish people a referendum.

And despite the passions provoked on both sides, there has been no violence nor calls to violence, but the tension has turned Catalan independence into a powder keg in Western Europe.

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