Where Is Catalonia? Region's Independence Movement Seeks Sovereignty

Where Is Catalonia? Region's Independence Movement Seeks Sovereignty

Where Is Catalonia? Region's Independence Movement Seeks Sovereignty

"I am here because I want Madrid to hear we are not exhausted and we will not accept to repeat the history of fascism", Francesca Carbonell, a 30-year-old waitress in Barcelona, told ABC News.

Describing Sunday's images of Spanish police clubbing women trying to vote as "saddening", he added: "Violence does not solve anything in politics".

King Felipe of Spain denounced the Catalan government for destabilizing the country as the leader of the regional government repeated his intention to declare independence within days.

The Spanish government on Wednesday said it "strongly rejects the accusations" Puigdemont directed at the King.

Catalan officials say voters overwhelmingly backed secession.

Many Catalans who were against declaring an independent state did not vote, some saying they felt intimidated.

Officers from the national police and paramilitary Civil Guard seized ballot papers and boxes at a number of polling stations.

Catalonia on Sunday held an independence referendum, with about 90% of voters backing a split from the rest of the country. "Politicians should ask the people what they want", he said.

Puigdemont said the statement was "disappointing", and that the vote was "a European issue".

Turnout was relatively low at a reported 42 percent, potentially weakening the position of Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

He told the BBC Catalonia could declare independence from Spain as early as the end of this week.

The four include regional police chief officer Josep Lluis Trapero and Jordi Sanchez, the head of the Catalan National Assembly that has been the main civic group behind the independence movement.

Tensions between Catalonia and the national government have plunged Spain into its worst political crisis in decades.

Spain so far has shown no interest in negotiation, with Prime Minister Rajoy insisting the referendum didn't even take place.

"These are hard times, but we will get over them and go forward, because we believe in our country and are proud of what we are". However, it warned Catalonia that if it declared independence it would find itself outside the EU.

"We trust the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this hard process", it said in a statement, urging all relevant players to move from confrontation to dialogue.

"If the Madrid government thought it was going to be able to crush the referendum and crush the Catalans on Sunday in the way it did with the police, then they misjudged it badly".

She said that Rajoy's strategy of using justice and police means to thwart the poll rather than dialogue has failed. Its population is around 7.5 million and is home to the city of Barcelona, the region's capital.

But Spanish Federal authorities have often reacted to the idea of Catalan independence with repression and aggression, which many Catalan have felt disrespected their identities, Marc Gafarot, an expert in Catalan history at the Barcelona Center for International Affairs, told ABC News. To the north of Barcelona, a line of tractors moved down a road blocked to traffic, accompanied by protesters chanting "Independence!" and "The streets will always be ours!".

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