Barcelona condemn Spanish crackdown on Catalonia independence vote

Reuters

Recent opinion polls have shown support for Catalan independence waning, but they also show that most people in the region want the right to vote over Catalonia's future.

Spanish police have arrested the Catalan region's junior economy minister as part of a morning raid on several government offices in the run-up to an independence referendum, according to sources within the regional government.

'We condemn and reject the anti-democratic and totalitarian actions of the Spanish state, ' Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said in a televised address.

Mr. Romeva said that Catalonia would hold the referendum as planned, and that Catalan lawmakers would act to honor the result within 48 hours - meaning they would declare independence unilaterally if people voted for it.

The operation comes a day after police seized a trove of documents related to the October 1 referendum from the offices of private delivery company Unipost in the Catalan city of Terrasa.

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

And police scuffled with dozens of pro-secession protesters as they confiscated over 45,000 notifications which were due to be sent to Catalans who had been chosen to staff polling stations.

The tax agency increase, which includes an expansion of personnel by 75 percent, signals one of Catalonia's most palpable institutional investments for a people on the brink of attaining their independence.

The action was taken to protest the attempts by the authorities to halt a referendum on Catalonia's independence.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, who heads the pro-independence devolved government, said she hoped the Catalan and Spanish governments could hold talks to resolve the situation.

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Catalonia's regional government has been "de facto" suspended by Spain's central government in Madrid, the president of the would-be breakaway region has said.

Mayor of the town of El Pont de Suert Jose Antonio Troguet leaves the court of Seu d'Urgell, Lerida, Catalonia after being accused of cooperating with the Catalan independence referendum. Spain's Constitutional Court had issued an order to suspend the plebiscite.

Now they have taken a step further in arresting Catalan officials.

Among those arrested on September 20 was Josep Maria Jove, secretary general of economic affairs and Catalonia's deputy vice president, a regional government spokesman said.

"To think that the government is comparing a peaceful, democratic movement to the Nazi regime shows how disproportionate this is", Catalan foreign affairs chief Raul Romeva said in an interview in Madrid.

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The prosperous Catalonia region, whose capital is Barcelona, generates a fifth of Spain's economy. Among those detained was Josep Maria Jove Llado, No. 2 in the economy department, a press officer for the Barcelona-based executive said in a text message.

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