Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

If Catalonia declares independence we will respond

REUTERS  Yves Herman REUTERS Yves Herman
Dexter Carr | 11 October, 2017, 00:17

In an indication of the deep divisions the referendum has caused, those who marched in Barcelona on Sunday in support of remaining part of Spain argued there was no reason they couldn't be both Catalan and Spanish. Fundacion La Caixa and Criteria also announced they move away from Catalonia to Palma de Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands. "We have perhaps been silent too long", Alejandro Marcos, 44, told AFP.

That shocked even many Catalans who were opposed to independence and sparked angry demonstrations against the police.

"I think that whatever they do, they have made us angry, and I think we have seen that a. part of Spain doesn't like us - the king doesn't like us either and so I think that, also because of how they've treated us just now, there is no turning back".

If Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont declares the region independent as promised, possibly by Tuesday, Spain will face its greatest political upheaval since its return to democracy in the 1970s.

"Spain will not be divided and the national unity will be preserved".

Others called for dialogue.

Publishing house Grupo Planeta also warned it will move to Madrid if independence is declared.

Police said 700,000 people joined a pro-independence protest in Barcelona two days after the vote.

He did not rule out moving to stop that by suspending Catalonia's regional autonomy, at the risk of sparking unrest.

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"The ideal thing would be not to seek drastic solutions", he said in an interview published this weekend in El Pais newspaper. "I would like this threat of a declaration of independence to be withdrawn as quickly as possible".

According to the Catalan government, 90 percent of participants voted for independence in the referendum on 1 October, with 2.3 million of Catalonia's 5.3 million registered voters casting a ballot.

Although it is not know what Puigdemont might say, any declaration of independence from the region would likely lead to more violence. Puigdemont is scheduled to address the regional parliament on Tuesday evening.

Mr Rajoy told Catalan leaders that there is still time to backtrack and avoid Madrid taking over the region's government.

Catalonia, a northeastern region in Spain, has its own language and cultural traditions.

The region of Catalonia, home to 7.5 million people in the northeast, is crucial to Spain, which is the EU's fifth-biggest economy and a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Spanish police violently cracked down on the referendum, using batons, shields and rubber bullets against peaceful voters and protesters.

"This situation can not be solved by violence, we have to find a solution through dialogue, this is also true when you consider the economic oint of view", he said.

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