from the I-said-no dept.
After Catalonia's leader missed a deadline to clarify the government's stance on an independence referendum, and missed another deadline (Thursday calling for an unambiguous renouncement of the independence referendum, the Spanish government plans to strip Catalonia of its autonomous status:
Spain was preparing to impose direct rule over semi-autonomous Catalonia after the region's leader Carles Puigdemont declined to categorically renounce an independence referendum, the prime minister's office announced Thursday.
Spain's government said it would hold a special Cabinet meeting and "approve the measures that will be sent to the Senate to protect the general interest of all Spaniards."
At the Cabinet meeting, the government would invoke Article 155 of Spain's constitution allowing it to strip Catalonia of its self-governance. That would take effect on Saturday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's office said in a statement.
Madrid had given Puigdemont a 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) deadline to clarify his government's stance on a non-binding declaration of independence passed by the regional legislature following a successful referendum on secession. But the Catalan leader insisted on keeping his options open, but that wasn't good enough for Spain's government, which had insisted on an unambiguous "no."
Bloomberg reports "Merkel and Macron Have Spain's Back as Catalan Crisis Escalates":
European Union leaders offered their support for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he prepares to suspend the powers of the Catalan administration to clamp down on its push for independence. EU chiefs arriving for a summit in Brussels on Thursday said they backed Madrid and stressed that the issue of Catalonia's independence was a domestic one for Spain.
"We're looking at this very closely and support the position of the Spanish government, which is also a position that's been adopted across parties," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "Of course this preoccupies us, and we hope that there can be a resolution on the basis of the Spanish constitution." Asked whether he supported the Spanish government, French President Emmanuel Macron said "always," adding that "this summit will be marked by a message of unity of its members in regards to Spain."
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy says he will ask the courts to revoke a law passed by the Catalan regional government to hold a referendum on independence. He described the vote, planned for 1 October, as illegal.
Earlier, state prosecutors said they would bring criminal charges against Catalan leaders for their endorsement of the referendum.
The pro-independence majority in Catalonia's parliament passed the referendum law on Wednesday. Spain's wealthy north-eastern region already has autonomous powers but the regional government says it has popular support for full secession.
- Will Catalonia try to secede from Spain this year? [Jan 2017]
- Catalan independence: Plan for quick split from Spain after vote [Jul 2017]
- Catalonia's push for independence from Spain [Nov 2015]
Scenes of chaos and violence unfolded in Catalonia as an independence referendum deemed illegal by Madrid devolved quickly on Sunday. As police followed orders from the central government to put a stop to the vote, they fired rubber bullets at unarmed protesters and smashed through the glass at polling places, reports The Associated Press. Three hundred and thirty-seven people were injured, some seriously, according to Catalonia's government spokesman.
Spain's Interior Ministry said a dozen police officers were injured. NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Barcelona that some people were throwing rocks down at officers from balconies. Yet the violence came from all directions.
"Horrible scenes," Lauren reports. "Police dragging voters out of polling stations, some by the hair."
Scuffles erupted as riot police forcefully removed hundreds of would-be voters from polling places across Barcelona, the Catalan capitol, reports AP. Nevertheless, many people, managed to successfully cast their ballots across the region after waiting in lines hundreds-of-people-deep, including the elderly and families with small children, says Reuters.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that he did not acknowledge the vote and called it "illegal".
Catalan emergency officials say 761 people have been injured as police used force to try to block voting in Catalonia's independence referendum.
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was tracked by Spain through fitting his group's car with a surveillance device as well as following the mobile phones of his companions. He was eventually captured in Germany on his way to Belgium from Finland.
Spanish intelligence agents had been tracking the movements of the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont using the geolocation service on his friend's mobile phone before he was detained in Germany at the weekend, according to reports.
Puigdemont was detained under a European arrest warrant in the northern German province of Schleswig-Holstein on Sunday morning as he journeyed by car from Helsinki to Brussels, where he has been living in self-imposed exile since Catalonia's unilateral declaration of independence last October.
From The Guardian: Spanish spies 'tracked Carles Puigdemont via friend's phone'
An international warrant for Puigdemont's arrest had been rescinded back in December but was revived for this occasion. Already back in September, the Internet Society issued a statement about the Spanish government's great efforts to outright censor online activities promoting or discussing the bid for Catalonian independence.
See also earlier SN stories:
Spain Moves Forward With Plan to Suspend Catalonia's Autonomy
Police and Voters Clash During Catalan Independence Referendum
Spain Trying to Stop Catalonia Independence Referendum