Catalan Leaders Face Growing Pressure Over Independence Threat

Posted October 10, 2017

Though 90% of voters backed independence at the outlawed referendum, fewer than half of the region's electorate voted.

"Ladies and gentlemen, they used the most valuable weapon we have: they used a ballot paper and a pen, and that was more important than anything the Spanish authorities could throw at them".

"We feel both Catalan and Spanish", Araceli Ponze, 72, said during Sunday's rally. It would therefore " be a candidate to become a member of the Union", then negotiations would be undertaken to integrate with the EU after a fire, green -with the unanimity of the 28 member States.

In a manifesto read at the end of the demonstration, there were demands that non-nationalist Catalans "should not be marginalised" and Mr Vargas Llosa launched a stinging attack on the nationalists, accusing their leaders, amongst them regional premier Carles Puigdemont, of being golpistas - conspirators in a coup d'etat.

"Spain will not be divided, and the national unity will be preserved".

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Meanwhile, Nils Muizneks, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, revealed that he has requested Spain's Ministry of the Interior set up an independent enquiry into multiple claims of disproportionate use of excessive force by the Spanish police during the banned referendum on 1 October.

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

Catalonia's Parliament had been due to meet on Monday with the expectation that it would endorse the declaration of independence.

On Sunday, Barcelona police estimated as many as 350,000 people participated in a rally organised in the Spanish city.

"I hope that those prevail in Spain, who understand that, as the Spanish Prime Minister has said, law and constitution are the basis on which we operate", German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.

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"There is a very large portion of Catalans who do not want the coup d'etat that is being promoted by the government, and that, on the contrary, think that Spain and Catalonia are united by five centuries of history and that nothing will be able to separate them", Vargas Llosa said.

"They have family ties, they go there on weekends", said Jean-Luc Pujol, co-founder of the political party Yes To A Catalan Country, which pushes for greater autonomy in the French region.

The vote, which was won by the Yes side, was broken up by police, who beat voters with batons. A mere "rhetorical" independence declaration would amount to surrender, CUP regional parliamentarian Mireia Boya warned on Twitter.

A lawmaker with the Catalan CUP party says the far-left separatists won't accept anything on Tuesday that falls short of a declaration of secession, after a referendum marred by violence.

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