Spanish police arrest 12 in move against Catalan referendum

The first minister went on to suggest the treaty between the United Kingdom government and Scottish government for the legal 2014 independence referendum, known as the Edinburgh Agreement, was the best course of action in Spain.

After an emergency cabinet meeting Catalan President Carles Puigdemont accused the Madrid government of "de facto" suspending the region's autonomy and imposing a state of emergency.

Large pro-independence crowds gathered in Barcelona this morning in support of the Catalan regional government after news of the raids broke.

In a September 20 speech about recent attempts to prevent the referendum, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont denounced the Spanish government as authoritarian and undemocratic.

He vows that the voting will still happen. "We hope that things are done in a peaceful way and, obviously, we won't get involved in the domestic politics of Spain". He added in a post in Twitter, "We will not accept a return to the darkest times. The Catalan government stands by freedom and democracy" - an allusion the Franco era.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau also spoke out against the police operation, saying in a tweet that it was "a democratic scandal".

"Asked about the raids, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told reporters, 'I'm sorry, I hope we don't continue this dynamic".

The commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, said last week that Catalonia should respect the constitutional court ruling.

On Tuesday, officers seized a trove of documents related to the independence referendum from the offices of Unipost, a private delivery company, in Terrasa, a city near Barcelona. The Guardia Civil confiscated 1.5 million posters and leaflets relating to the referendum and 45,000 polling supervisor notices.

Overnight, police occupied the region's economy ministry as hundreds of protesters remained outside.

Josep Maria Jové, the Secretary General of the Catalan Department of the Economy, was reportedly among at least 12 people arrested during the operations.

Authorities seized almost 10 million ballots destined for the vote, seriously damaging separatist plans for a referendum with a semblance of legitimacy, even if it was never going to be recognised by Madrid or overseas.

When news of the events spread, people started gathering outside the finance ministry in Barcelona.

It was nearly always peaceful, but the pro-independence Terra Lliure group, which was active between 1978 and 1995, killed one person. According to the Guardian, they chanted slogans including: "Independence!" and "We will vote!". That would exceed the number of Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, who serve both the Catalan and central governments. They will be questioned over the misuse of public funds to organize the referendum.

Pro-independence parties who control the Catalan parliament pushed through the referendum law earlier this month after unsuccessfully demanding for years the right to hold a free vote on self-determination. Puigdemont said, "Logically, the state has to react". But what I think is of concern anywhere is for a state to seek to deny the right of a people to democratically express their will. "They've been warned and they know the referendum can't take place". For some, the Catalan police became national heroes, while for others they had, through negligence, apparently failed to prevent the attacks.

  • Leroy Wright