Spanish police raid Catalan government buildings over fears of independence vote

Trevor Jackson
September 22, 2017

Jove, the secretary general of the Catalan vice presidency was arrested amid mounting tensions over Catalonia's plans to hold an independence referendum on October 1 deemed illegal by Madrid.

A ministry statement said police also confiscated polling station signs and documents for voting officials in a raid Wednesday on a warehouse in a small town outside Barcelona.

However, polls show that Catalonia's roughly 7.5 million residents are divided on independence.

As well as the "Rhapsody", with capacity for 2,448 people, the ministry also hired another vessel to dock in Barcelona with a third headed for the port of Tarragona, 100 kilometers (60 miles) west along the coast, El Confidencial website reported.

Carles Puigdemont appeared with members of his cabinet Wednesday following several arrests in an ongoing operation by Civil Guard agents.

The central government has also taken over the payment of essential services and public workers' salaries in Catalonia to prevent the money from being spent on the referendum.

The Constitutional Court has suspended the vote after the central government challenged its legality.

Mr Rajoy said the regional government had been warned that they were destroying Spain's national sovereignty, "There's no democratic state in the world that would accept what these people are planning", he said. Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera said he supported the raids because the Catalan government had "skipped the law and are trampling our rights".

Located in the northeast of the country, Catalonia is recognized as one of Spain's most prosperous regions, not only economically but culturally.

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Among those arrested are Catalan government officials - including an aide to Catalan regional Vice-President Oriol Junqueras - and people linked to the organization of the referendum, which is outlawed by Spain's Constitutional Court.

Most of the arrests were senior Catalan officials, including the top economy ministry official, Josep Maria Jove, and his counterpart in the treasury, Josep Maria Salvado.

Following Wednesday's morning raids, key figures in the region's independence movement took to Twitter.

"Today the government of Rajoy has crossed a very unsafe red line", Jordi Sanchez, president of Catalan National Assembly, a civic group leading the independence drive said.

While police searched Unipost on Tuesday, scuffles broke out between officers and some of the approximately 200 people who gathered at the building to protest the search.

The first minister said she was concerned by reports of Spanish police seizing ballot papers and entering newspaper offices, and suggested that the 2014 Scottish independence referendum was the best example to follow in Catalonia.

Police and judicial authorities gave no details of the operation, saying a judge had placed a secrecy order on it. Both officials declined to be identified by name, following internal protocol.

But Madrid is against it, pointing to the constitution which states that the unity of the Spanish nation is "unbreakable" and that only the central government has the power to call a referendum on any matter.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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