UN Urges Spain to Respect Democratic Rights of Catalonia

UN Urges Spain to Respect Democratic Rights of Catalonia

UN Urges Spain to Respect Democratic Rights of Catalonia

The Catalan government has insisted it will press ahead with Sunday's plebiscite in the wealthy northeastern region which is home to 7.5 million people, despite a crackdown by Madrid which wants to prevent a vote ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

The Madrid government has in recent weeks taken political and legal measures to prevent the referendum by exerting more control over the use of public funds in Catalonia and arresting regional officials.

"You do not need to share the Catalan regional government's roadmap to realize that the main party responsible for worsening the situation has been the intransigent government of Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy", Colau wrote.

The disputed vote has even sparked a showdown over who police in Catalonia should report to, the region's ruling separatist politicians or the central government in Madrid. "I think it would be foolish not to", he told reporters.

Barcelona police forces have raided a series of municipal warehouses housing ballot boxes which had been used in previous elections in the Catalan region.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has said that an independent Catalonia would have to apply to join the political bloc, with Spain likely to try to block that application. Police have confiscated thousands of voting slips, and courts have fined and threatened to arrest regional officials.

The crackdown continued Thursday as police seized more than six million ballots and envelopes and 100 ballot boxes at a warehouse in Igualada, a town near Barcelona, a police source said.

Catalan authorities say they will declare independence within 48 hours after announcing the vote's results if the "yes" side wins.

The Spanish government has been accused of "North Korean" tactics after trying to to stop Sunday's independence referendum in Catalonia, which it has branded "illegal". Catalonians are getting "more and more" frustrated, Romeva said.

Students cheer and shout slogans as they join a farmers union protest supporting the Yes vote outside the University of Barcelona.

"We don't want a part to decide for the whole", Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis told Amanpour from Madrid, dismissing the idea that the vote is about "some romantic right to decide".

"It's over because we have been negotiating with the Spanish government for 40 years and it hasn't been worthwhile".

Catalonia accounts for almost a fifth of Spain's economy, and leads all regions in producing 25% of the country's exports.

The vast majority of Catalans favor holding a referendum but they have always been nearly evenly split over independence itself, with oscillations over the past few years depending on Spain's current economic performance.

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