Catalonia on streets after Spain's arrests

Spain's Constitutional Court said September 21 it will begin fining 22 electoral board members appointed to oversee Catalonia's planned independence referendum between $7,200 and $14,400 a day as long as they fail to comply with a court order suspending the ballot.

Forn said the chief of the Mossos d'Esquadra had expressed his opposition to the measure during a meeting Saturday with the top state prosecutor in Catalonia and chiefs of two other national police forces, the National Police and the Civil Guard.

The Catalan interior minister said the new state forces on the ground were one more step toward taking over the local police, a move that is seen as unlikely by most observers because it would be reminiscent of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, when the force was abolished.

Catalonia's president, Carles Puigdemont, blasted the police operations as "unlawful" and accused the national government of adopting a "totalitarian attitude".

"That (the referendum) can not be held in the circumstances that we wanted is obvious", he said.

Meanwhile, Ian Williams, the other contributor on the panel, said the Catalan separatists are playing very cleverly by provoking the government in Madrid, "because they know the government is stupid enough" to fall in the trap.

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Organizers also denounced what they describe as the Canadian government's timid response to the intensifying Spanish crackdown ahead of a planned October 1 referendum. All the arrested this week had been released by Friday, although six of them remain under investigation for allegedly helping in the logistics for the vote.

A pro-independence civic group in Catalonia is calling on residents to begin a long-term street protest against Spanish authorities' surprise crackdown on the region's plans to hold a secession referendum.

Several hundred students have spent the night inside a Barcelona university to protest the government's efforts to stop a referendum over Catalonia's secession from Spain, local media reported today.

"We are showing that, as students, we have a part to play", student spokesman Jordi Vives told Catalan public television.

His televised statement came as Spain's Finance Ministry said it was imposing further controls over the Catalan government's finances to ensure no public money is used for the referendum.

Although polls show less than half of Catalonia's 5.5 million voters want self-rule, most in the wealthy northeastern region want the chance to vote on the issue.


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