Catalan leaders vow to push forward on referendum

The EU should do its duty as a repository of democratic values by telling Spain to allow a referendum on Catalan independence to take place, the region's foreign affairs chief said.

He is also reluctant to open a Pandora's box in a fragile decentralised Spain where regions have differing levels of autonomy.

Tackling one of the biggest political crises to hit Spain since democracy was restored in the 1970s after decades of dictatorship, authorities in Madrid have declared the referendum unconstitutional and told police to ensure no votes are cast.

"If the Spanish government had properly addressed the requests of Catalonia in the past and not rejected negotiations, it wouldn't have come this far".

David Alendete, an investigative reporter with the newspaper El Pais, said the conference was organized by a Russian lawyer who is defending Russian computer hackers arrested in Spain and is wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection with the hacking of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential election campaign in the U.S.

Acting on judge's orders, the Guardia Civil has been tasked with confiscating all referendum-related material in Catalonia, including websites deemed to incite the separatist poll. "I think it would be foolish not to", he told reporters.


The spokesman of the Spanish Council of Ministers said that there would be no referendum in Catalonia on October 1 as the Spanish government considered it illegitimate.

"Today we can affirm that there will be no effective referendum in Catalonia".

The central government in Madrid, which has sent thousands of police reinforcements to the northeastern region to prevent people from voting on Sunday, meanwhile insisted on Friday the referendum would not happen.

The move follows a week of turmoil in the Catalan capital of Barcelona as the Spanish government continues its crackdown on the state's attempts to hold an independence referendum this coming weekend.

Many protesters are carrying pro-independence flags and handmade banners, with slogans such as "we want to vote". "Not political standards, not on political orders, but policing and professional standards", he said.

Barcelona is a city of peace, proud of its diversity and with a strong cosmopolitan and pro-European vocation.


Madrid has also threatened fines against bureaucrats working on the ballot, including the region's election commission, which was dissolved last week.

Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, says that a Yes vote would form the basis for discussions with the European Union, and Catalonia would not necessarily be expelled from the European Union and the eurozone.

But the unrelenting opposition from Madrid means such a result would go all but unrecognised, potentially setting up a new phase of the dispute.

In the voting booth, voters will be asked the question: "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?"

Earlier, the autonomy's parliament voted for two laws on the referendum.



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