Tension Mounts Ahead Of Catalonia's Controversial Independence Referendum

Saturday, 30 Sep, 2017

He told Italian news agency Ansa the referendum was illegal but that both the Madrid government and the devolved administration in Catalonia needed to reach a settlement on the matter. "But we also know that they have feelings, conscience", he said. Despite Spain's moves to prevent voting, Catalonia's regional government plans to open more than 2,000 polling stations on Sunday.

But the impact of Spain's economic crisis, followed by the Constitutional Court's partial cancellation in 2010 of a statute giving Catalonia greater autonomy, turned this into outright anger, he adds.

The instruction also stresses that everyone has to go to the assigned polling stations, as no voting will be organized outside of the authorized sites.

Scores of Catalan farmers on tractors rumbled into downtown Barcelona on Friday, driving down the city's broad boulevards in a show of support for a potentially explosive vote on whether the prosperous region should break away from the rest of Spain and become Europe's newest country.

"We're just organizing activities from day until night", said Nuria Pérez, a 26-year-old theatre teacher who said she had spent the night in the school. The court mentioned in its ruling that Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on September 27 had mentioned the app on his Twitter account and published a link to its location on Google Play.

For weeks, the state, its judges and police forces have pulled out the stops to stop the Catalan vote.

-March 2014: Spain's Constitutional Court rules that Catalonia can't go ahead with a planned November 9 vote on its independence, as all Spaniards must be allowed to cast a ballot.

Earlier on Saturday, Spanish police raided the Catalan government's telecommunications and information technology center, the La Vanguardia newspaper reported, citing RAC1 radio station.

The Catalan government shared on Saturday instructions through social networks and messengers describing how to occupy schools designated to serve as polling stations for a disputed independence referendum, in order to prevent police from sealing them.

The Catalonian population makes up for 16 percent of Spain's population.

The warning comes after a dozen Catalan officials were detained for two days last week.

Parents in some of the occupied schools said police officers had told them they could stay as long as they were not doing anything connected with the referendum.

Thousands of extra police have been deployed to Catalonia with orders to cordon off polling stations and block people from voting. But after Franco triumphed in the country's traumatic civil war, he repressed Catalan culture during his decades in power.

"The government is going to enforce the laws, we are all responsible for our actions and whoever harms the [laws] must face the consequences", he said.

"I am aware they have a job to do, that they have their orders and have to carry them out".

Pressure for a vote on self-determination has grown over the past five years but in the 2015 regional election, won by an alliance of pro-independence parties, about 40% of voters backed parties loyal to Spain.