Ultimatum to Catalonia: Back down or be punished
Spanish authorities gave Catalonia’s separatist leader five days to explain whether his ambiguous statement on secession was a formal declaration of independence and warned Wednesday that his answer dictated whether they would apply never-used constitutional powers to curtail the region’s autonomy.
Threatening to invoke part of the Spanish Constitution to assert control over the country’s rogue region, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s response to the government’s ultimatum would be crucial in deciding “events over the coming days.”
Puigdemont said Tuesday that he was using the victory in a banned Oct. 1 referendum to proceed with a declaration of Catalan independence, but proposed freezing its implementation for a few weeks to allow for dialogue and mediation. His position seemed designed to appease the most fervent separatists, but also to build overall support.