Madrid tight­ens con­trol over spend­ing in sep­a­ratist Cat­alo­nia

Global Times - Weekend - - WORLD -

Spain’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment launched its lat­est salvo against Cat­alo­nia on Fri­day, tight­en­ing con­trol over re­gional spend­ing and brush­ing aside a last­ditch sep­a­ratist de­mand for di­a­logue to al­low a banned ref­er­en­dum.

Prime Min­is­ter Mariano Ra­joy was due later Fri­day in the Cata­lan cap­i­tal of Barcelona to rally his troops against a back­drop of soar­ing ten­sions over sep­a­ratist lead­ers’ plans to hold the out­lawed in­de­pen­dence vote on Oc­to­ber 1.

State au­thor­i­ties piled pres­sure on Cat­alo­nia, threat­en­ing to ar­rest may­ors if they fa­cil­i­tate the ref­er­en­dum and or­der­ing po­lice to seize items that could be used in the vote.

But sep­a­ratists have re­acted with de­fi­ance.

On Thurs­day evening, Cata­lan Pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont and other re­gional play­ers launched their cam­paign for the ref­er­en­dum in front of a crowd of thou­sands of cheer­ing sup­port­ers in the coastal city of Tar­rag­ona, ig­nor­ing warn­ings that the event was “il­le­gal.”

In an open let­ter dis­trib­uted to do­mes­tic and for­eign me­dia on Fri­day, Puigde­mont and other lead­ers in­clud­ing Barcelona Mayor Ada Co­lau de­nounced “un­prece­dented re­pres­sion” by Madrid.

They also asked Ra­joy and the Span­ish king for a last-ditch di­a­logue, but were re­buked by the gov­ern­ment.

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