The Catalan leader has slammed an ‘out of touch’ King of Spain for ‘ignoring millions’ who voted for independence as tensions escalated on the streets of Barcelona.
Last night, pro-Spain protestors took to the streets of Barcelona, with the nation on the verge of being torn apart, with politicians in Catalonia suggesting that independence could be secured by Monday.
Belgium’s Philippe Lamberts, the head of the Green grouping in the European Parliament said the crisis ‘threatened the spirit of European integration, even more than Brexit’.
Experts say tensions between Catalonia and Spain is at its highest since the end of the Franco regime in the 1970s, with clashes continuing in the days after the referendum on Sunday.
Last night, pro-Spain protestors took to the streets of Barcelona, with the nation on the verge of being torn apart over demands for Catalonia’s independence
Anti-independence demonstrators waving Spanish flags shout slogans during a protest in Barcelona as tensions rose
Catalonia’s regional government is mulling when to declare the region’s independence from Spain in the wake of a disputed referendum that has triggered Spain’s most serious national crisis in decades
After meetings in the regional parliament on Wednesday, pro-independence lawmakers called a full session next Monday to debate the final results of the vote
The pro-Spain faction cheered members of the Spanish Civil Guard, blamed for much of the violence in Sunday’s referendum
Thousands gathered outside the General Direction of the National Police of Spain building on Monday to protest against the violence that marred Sunday’s referendum vote
A woman carries an independence Catalan flag during a demonstration march in Barcelona against the confiscation of ballot boxes and charges on unarmed civilians during Sunday’s referendum
According to the Catalonia’s government more than two million people voted on Sunday in the referendum of Catalonia, which the Government in Madrid had declared illegal and undemocratic
After meetings in the regional parliament on Wednesday, pro-independence lawmakers called a full session next Monday to debate the final results of the vote.
‘According to how the session goes, independence could be declared,’ a regional government source said.
Mireia Boya of the radical leftwing separatist CUP said it would be ‘a plenary to proclaim the republic’ of independent Catalonia.
King Felipe VI branded the independence drive illegal and undemocratic, throwing his weight behind the national government.
Catalan leaders ‘with their irresponsible conduct could put at risk the economic and social stability of Catalonia and all of Spain’, he said.
Accusing them of ‘disloyalty’, the king said that the state had to ‘ensure constitutional order’.
Carles Puigdemont, the leader of Catalonia, angrily rejected this, saying in a televised address: ‘The king has adopted the (national) government’s position and policies which have been disastrous with regard to Catalonia. He is deliberately ignoring millions of Catalans.’
He also accused the national government of failing to respond to proposals for mediation in the crisis.
The tone of the crisis sharpened with Catalonia’s president denouncing the king’s intervention and Spain’s government rejecting any possible talks.
‘The government will not negotiate over anything illegal and will not accept blackmail,’ said a statement from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s office.
Yesterday, video footage emerged of rival groups of youngsters fighting on the streets of Barcelona’s upmarket Sarrià-Saint Gervasi neighbourhood.
The two sides – one carrying Spanish flags and the other Catalan symbols – can be seen trading punches in broad daylight after shouting insults at each other.
The fight is said to have started after one youth spat at a member of the other group, and footage shows how an intervening police officer on a motorbike ends up on the ground.
Trading blows: Video footage shows pro-independence and an anti-independence group trading punches in broad daylight after shouting insults at each other in Barcelona
The fight is said to have started after one youth spat at a member of the other group, and footage shows how an intervening police officer on a motorbike ends up on the ground
Officials said that 90 per cent of votes cast were for independence. The Catalan goverment’s spokesman said that an estimated of 770,000 votes were lost as a result of 400 polling stations being raided by Spanish police
As well as throwing punches, some of the youngsters were seen throwing eggs in footage published by Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia. The ugly incident happened around 4pm Tuesday in Barcelona’s upmarket Sarrià-Saint Gervasi neighbourhood.
The youngsters carrying Spanish flags – numbering around 150 – were returning from a demonstration outside the HQ of a local radio station where they chanted slogans against independence.
The other smaller group had come from a pro- independence rally. The violence – which lasted only a few minutes – was described as an isolated incident and no-one was believed to have been injured.
But it is bound to increase fears for Spain’s future, and elsewhere, the chief of Catalonia’s regional police force – Mossos d’Esquadra – has been accused of sedition after ‘failing to prevent’ that the independence referendum took place.
Riot police watched on as anti-independence demonstrators waved Spanish flags during a march in Barcelona, Spain last night
The referendum has plunged Spain into its worst constitutional crisis in decades with millions voting for separation in defiance of Spanish courts that had ruled the ballot illegal
Carles Puigdemont, the leader of Catalonia, has announced that the region will declare independence in a matter of days
WHY DOES CATALONIA WANT INDEPENDENCE… AND HOW CAN THE REGION BREAK AWAY FROM SPAIN?
By SARA MALM
WHY DOES CATALONIA WANT INDEPENDENCE?
Catalonia, home to 7.5million in the north-east, has its own language, culture and traditions, and many who live there see themselves as Catalan, not Spanish.
It lost its autonomy in the wake of the Civil War under Francisco Franco, and among other things, the population was banned from speaking Catalan. It regained some autonomy after Franco died in 1975, but for many this was not enough.
DO ALL CATALANS WANT INDEPENDENCE?
Catalonia is Spain’s most prosperous region, and in the wake of the 2008-2016 financial crisis, support for independence has been growing, but low turnouts have skewed polls.
An informal referendum in 2014 saw 81 per cent support independence, but just over 40 per cent came out to vote.
A 2017 poll by Centre for Opinion Studies found that 49.4 per cent was against independence, and just 41.4 per cent was in favour.
The result on Sunday was 90 per cent in favour, but just 42 per cent of eligible voters took part and it is thought most of those who are against independence stayed at home.
HOW CAN THEY BECOME INDEPENDENT?
The legitimate and recognised way would be a referendum acknowledged by the Spanish government.
The Catalan regional government claims Sunday’s vote was legitimate and so is expected to declare independence in a vote next week.
However, it must be recognised as an independent country and – so far – no country or international body has expressed any support for this.
In addition, The EU is standing solidly behind Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and says Catalonia would be expelled from the bloc and the shared euro currency.
WHAT CAN SPAIN DO TO STOP IT?
Spain has declared the referendum illegal and invalid, and while Catalonia is autonomous, it is still a part of the country and must obey its constitution.
The government can invoke the constitution’s Article 155, which allows the government to suspend, totally or partially, any region’s self-government if it disobeys its constitutional obligations or attacks the general interests of Spain.
However if the government does not make an effort to try to appease Catalan separatists – or removes Catalonia’s autonomy – it is inevitably going to trigger massive protests and strikes in a time where tensions are already at its highest since the end of Franco’s reign, and the Spanish economy is still recovering from it’s ‘Great Recession’.
SO WHAT WILL ACTUALLY HAPPEN NOW?
Both sides say they are open to dialogue – but have put up conditions unacceptable to the other.
Prime Minister Rajoy had insisted he couldn’t discuss a referendum unless the constitution was changed, and invited Catalonia to work on changing it.
The Catalan government said its right to choose whether or not they want to be part of Spain must be respected first before talks could proceed.
Catalonia now wants the EU to intervene, an unlikely prospect, and calls for international mediation, something Spain is not likely to agree to.
Last night, thousands marched outside the General Direction of the National Police of Spain in Barcelona to protest against the violence that marred Sunday’s referendum.
CATALAN POLICE CHIEF INVESTIGATED FOR ‘SEDITION’
Catalonia’s regional police chief has been placed under investigation after the local force allegedly failed to rein in pro-independence voters.
The National Court in Madrid summoned Josep Luis Trapero and three other suspects to a hearing on Friday.
The spokesman said the four suspects were accused of ‘a crime of sedition… in relation to the gatherings and demonstrations carried out to forcibly prevent the authorities and their officers from carrying out their duties.’
The crime of sedition is punishable by up to 15 years in prison if committed by a member of the authorities, under Spain’s penal code.
The three other suspects are another senior Catalan police official, Teresa Laplana and the leaders of two prominent Catalan pro-independence civil groups: Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural and Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC).
It comes as Spain’s King Felipe VI condemned the Catalan authorities over their ‘irresponsible conduct’ after an ‘illegal’ vote was held.
The referendum has plunged Spain into its worst constitutional crisis in decades with millions voting for separation in defiance of Spanish courts that had ruled the ballot illegal.
Some 900 people were injured on polling day when police fired rubber bullets and charged at crowds with truncheons to disrupt the vote.
The shocking scenes of violence seen over the weekend followed years of confrontation between Catalan separatists and the central authorities.
During tonight’s press conference, King Felipe VI said: ‘They could have put at risk the economy of Catalonia and even of Spain.
‘All this means is that they have attempted to appropriate the historical institutions of Catalonia and these authorities in a clear and definitive way and they have put themselves outside the rule of law and democracy.
‘They have tried to break the unity of Spain and national sovereignty which is the right of all the Spanish people to decide democratically.
‘In view of this extremely serious situation, it requires a commitment from everybody.
‘It is the responsibility of the legitimate powers of the state to make sure the constitutional order is abided by.’
Unscheduled speeches by kings in Spain have not been common but both Felipe VI and his father, King Juan Carlos I have delivered addresses in moments of high political tension or in the wake of terror attacks.
Catalan Police officers secure the area as thousands of people chant slogans outside the General Direction of the National Police of Spain building
A woman waves a Spanish flag at the end of a march against police violence in Barcelona. Thousands of people demonstrated in an outcry against police violence on Sunday
Thousands of citizens gather in Plaza Universitat during a regional general strike to protest Sunday’s violence
During a press conference yesterday, Spain’s King Felipe VI, (pictured) condemned the Catalan authorities over their ‘irresponsible conduct’
Angry crowd chased riot officers out of Catalan towns yesterday in protest against police brutality during Sunday’s independence referendum
When asked what Puigdemont would do if the Spanish government were to intervene and take control of Catalonia’s government, he said it would be ‘an error which changes everything’
Yesterday, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Catalonia in protest against the violent crackdown by Spanish police.
Metro stations shut down in Barcelona, pickets blocked dozens of roads and state workers walked out in response to a call for a general strike by pro-independence groups and trade unions.
FC Barcelona, the city’s football club, joined the strike, saying it would close for the day and none of its teams would train. Carmaker SEAT was forced to shut a production line.
Catalonia, Spain’s richest region, has its own language and culture and a political movement for secession that has strengthened in recent years.
Those who participated voted overwhelmingly for independence, a result that was expected since residents who favour remaining part of Spain mainly boycotted the vote.
Protest: Catalan independence supporters raise their hands, some painted in white, as a symbol of protest after nearly 900 people were injured as police tried to forcibly disrupt a referendum on independence
Opinion polls conducted before the vote suggested only a minority of around 40 percent of residents in the region back independence. But a majority want a referendum to be held, and protesters said the violent police crackdown against the ballot had energised the secessionist camp.
‘What happened on Oct. 1 has fired up independence feeling that will never die,’ said 18-year-old student Monica Ventinc, who attended a protest on Tuesday.
On financial markets, Spain’s 10-year borrowing costs hit their highest level in nearly three months as tensions between Madrid and Catalonia spilled on to the streets.
Several demonstrations unfolded across Catalonia on Tuesday. To the north of Barcelona, a line of tractors moved down a road blocked to traffic, accompanied by protesters chanting ‘Independence!’ and ‘The streets will always be ours!’
Crowds gathered outside the local headquarters of Spain’s ruling People’s Party (PP) and the Spanish national police headquarters in Barcelona, whistling and waving the red-and-yellow regional flag.
Thousands of campaigners gathered in the centre of Barcelona yesterday and waved Estelada separatists flags in recognition of Sunday’s vote
It was not immediately clear where the police and Civil Guards staying at the hotels would be housed, although one of three ferries in the ports of Tarragona and Barcelona where nearly 3,000 anti-riot police are staying has been put forward as an option. Police are pictured carrying cheering and waving Spanish flags at a hotel in Pineda de Mar on Tuesday morning
Groups of firemen marched and played bagpipes in Barcelona as people cheered them. Outside the PP offices, people threw voting papers into the air and chanted ‘We voted’.
People entwined flowers into the gates of Ramon Llull school, where Spanish police clashed with those wanting to vote in the banned referendum on Sunday.
Barcelona tourist attractions such as museums and architect Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia church, were shut.
SEAT, owned by Germany’s Volkswagen, was forced to halt production on one of three production lines at its plant 40 kms (25 miles) from Barcelona in the afternoon because the road closures interrupted supply of a part, a spokesman said.
But some businesses operated normally and it was difficult to estimate what proportion of workers heeded the strike call.
‘In no way can we accept that they come here with this kind of repression,’ taxi driver Alejandro Torralbo, standing outside the PP headquarters, said of Sunday’s police action.
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said Puigdemont and his regional government had lost respect for the democratic process and were showing a flagrant disregard for the law.
‘I’ve seen how President Puigdemont has flooded the streets with his followers to stop people obeying the law and to make them disrespect justice,’ she said.
‘We are here to defend the rights and liberties of all Spaniards that have been trampled upon by the regional government.’