Spain already another country for Catalans

Carles Puigdemont Vows To See Through Independence Vote

Spain already another country for Catalans

September 11 marks the "Diada", Catalan national day, which commemorates the fall of Barcelona to Spain in 1714 and is traditionally used by pro-independence activists to call for secession for the northeastern region with a distinct language.

The Constitutional Court last Thursday suspended the referendum after a legal challenge by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The challenge Spain faces as it moves to stifle a push for independence in Catalonia goes beyond stopping separatist politicians' plans for an October 1 referendum on secession.

Thousands of people are expected to rally across Catalonia, an autonomous community in east Spain, on Monday to mark its National Day, in a show of support seeking independence from the country, The Guardian reported. A majority of the votes cast in that referendum were in favour of independence from Spain.

"Catalan people will make independence possible; if there are a lot of us, they can't stop us".

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Among the comparatively wealthy region's grievances is that because it accounts for a fifth of Spain's economic output, it pays more into the central government's coffers than it receives.

"We have the full force of the state against us", Carles Puigdemont told a meeting of party officials on Saturday in the city of Barcelona.

But after a surge in recent years, opinion polls show that support for breaking away from Spain among the region's 7.5m inhabitants has plateaued at around 50%.

Spain's justice ministry has warned that local officials who facilitate the October 1 independence vote the Catalan government called last week risk criminal prosecution. But the Catalan government has vowed to hold the referendum and be bound by its result to either declare independence or call regional elections.

"I am too old to be told what I can or can't do, I am counting on voting and I will do so, even if they have to put me in prison", said Mari Carmen Pla, a 70-year-old pensioner surrounded by a sea of red and yellow Catalan independence flags. Police have since searched newspaper offices and printers for signs of any preparation for the referendum.

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Catalan society is deeply divided over independence.

Tensions have been high between Madrid and Catalonia since the Spanish government blocked Barcelona's planned referendum to split from it.

Catalonia, roughly the same size as Belgium, has its own language and customs, and already has significant powers over matters such as education and healthcare.

Across the proud region, the central government in Madrid is often seen as a distant troublemaker that takes more taxes than it returns in services and public works.

During the 2013 "Diada" demonstrators formed a human chain that crossed Catalonia.

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