Cata­lan may­ors back in­de­pen­dence vote

Times Colonist - - World -

BARCELONA, Spain — More than 700 may­ors from Cat­alo­nia met Satur­day in Barcelona in a show of strength amid pres­sure from Spain’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment not to hold an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum for the north­east­ern re­gion.

Po­lit­i­cal ten­sions in Spain are in­creas­ing as the pro­posed vot­ing date of Oct. 1 nears. The Cata­lan gov­ern­ment has been scram­bling to push for­ward the vote, de­spite the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s warn­ings that lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are not al­lowed to use public build­ings for it and may­ors can be le­gally pros­e­cuted for it.

Hun­dreds of may­ors stood Satur­day next to re­gional Pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont and Barcelona Mayor Ada Co­lau in Barcelona, the cap­i­tal and main city in the re­gion.

“We will not be in­tim­i­dated. This is not about in­de­pen­dence, it’s about our rights,” said Co­lau.

Span­ish po­lice on Satur­day seized print­ing ma­te­ri­als in­tended to sup­port and pro­mote the ref­er­en­dum near Barcelona. The op­er­a­tion fol­lowed a raid Fri­day where up to 100,000 posters were seized. Barcelona’s mu­nic­i­pal po­lice also con­fis­cated fly­ers and posters Satur­day, ac­cord­ing to PDECat, a party in favour of the in­de­pen­dence move­ment.

Puigde­mont thanked the may­ors for not back­ing down and in­sisted that most Cata­lans are de­ter­mined to press ahead de­spite the ban.

“Do not un­der­es­ti­mate the Cata­lan peo­ple,” he warned.

Cat­alo­nia’s re­gional po­lice force is un­der or­ders to ar­rest the may­ors if they refuse to ap­pear for ques­tion­ing in an investigation into the vote, which Spain’s con­sti­tu­tional court has sus­pended, State Prose­cu­tor Jose Manuel Maza’s of­fice said. The or­der puts re­gional po­lice in the un­easy po­si­tion of car­ry­ing out com­mands from Madrid in their own towns and cities.

If may­ors and their mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can­not help or­ga­nize the bal­lot­ing, the in­de­pen­dence vote is un­likely to pro­ceed.

MANU FERNANDEZ, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cata­lan may­ors take part in a march out­side the Gen­er­al­i­tat Palace in Barcelona, Spain, ahead of a planned in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum in the Cat­alo­nia re­gion on Oct. 1.

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