Cata­lans set to go it alone

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS -

fered more de­tail about theh ho­tel se­cu­rity guard who is cred­ited with sav­ing count­less lives af­ter he ap­proached Pad­dock’s room and dis­tracted him. “Je­sus Cam­pos is a true hero,” he said.

“He was dis­patched to what they call a door alarm on th the 32nd floor floor. “He went up there to in­ves­ti­gate and as he was do­ing his job dili­gently, he came un­der fire from our sus­pect. He no­ti­fied his dis­patch, which was ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal to us know­ing the lo­ca­tion, as well as ad­vis­ing e re­spond­ing of­fi­cers.” BARCELONA: Cat­alo­nia, the famed re­gion of Spain fronting the Mediter­ranean, could de­clare in­de­pen­dence as early as to­mor­row, as the coun­try is gripped by its worst po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in more than 40 years.

Hun­dreds of sol­diers have been de­ployed to the area as its pres­i­dent, Car­les Puigde­mont, vowed to push ahead with mak­ing the break from Madrid.

A ref­er­en­dum held last week­end de­spite a High Court rul­ing it il­le­gal led to thou­sands of pro­test­ers clash­ing wi with po­lice (pic­tured) and resu sulted in 893 peo­ple and 33 po po­lice of­fi­cers be­ing in­jured, as Sp Span­ish na­tional po­lice seized b bal­lot boxes and tried to shut th the vote down.

Not since the end of the Franco regime in 1975 has Spain been gripped by such se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal tur­moil, which led to King Felipe crit­i­cis­ing t the in­de­pen­dence move­ment, and the Euro­pean Union try­ing to si­mul­ta­ne­ously con­demn the po­lice vi­o­lence while urg­ing the na­tion to re­main united.

Res­i­dents are on edge ahead of Mr Puigde­mont’s an­nounce­ment, an anx­i­ety height­ened by the ar­rival of 20 truck­loads of sol­diers de­ployed around the re­gion as Madrid tries to re­gain con­trol.

Dis­turb­ing scenes from last Sun­day’s ref­er­en­dum showed po­lice fir­ing rub­ber bul­let and beat­ing pro­test­ers, with im­ages emerg­ing on so­cial me­dia of po­lice phys­i­cally drag­ging away the el­derly and hurl­ing pro­test­ers to the ground. In some ar­eas, lo­cal fire­fight­ers formed a hu­man bar­rier be­tween na­tional po­lice and pro­test­ers, while the lo­cal Cata­lan po­lice force, Mos­sos, tried to re­main neu­tral.

The vote went ahead de­spite Madrid gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials ar­rest­ing 14 Cata­lan lead­ers and seiz­ing hun­dreds of bal­lot boxes in a bid to stymie the poll.

Aus­tralian woman Michelle McCarthy, who lives in Barcelona, said it had been “hor­ri­ble to see that blood­shed and the po­lice shoot­ing rub­ber bul­lets into the crowds’’.

“When I stepped out­side on the day of the polling there were riot vans every­where and po­lice with ba­tons and ma­chine guns. It was so in­tim­i­dat­ing,” she said.

“The whole en­ergy of the city felt an­gry.”

About 7.5 mil­lion of Spain’s pop­u­la­tion of 46.5 mil­lion live in Cat­alo­nia which makes up about 20 per cent of Spain’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct. It’s loss would be like Vic­to­ria or NSW break­ing away from Aus­tralia.

Clark County Un­der­sh­er­iff Kevin McMahill

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