Spanish gov't to take measures if Catalonia region unilaterally declares independence

Spanish gov't to take measures if Catalonia region unilaterally declares independence

Catalonian officials claim the referendum results give them a mandate to create a new country.

The anti-independence demonstration, which included Catalans and people from other parts of Spain, underlined how the dispute has riven the region itself.

On Saturday, thousands of people calling for Spanish unity attended rallies in the capital Madrid. But less than half of the region's electorate voted, and the way the referendum was held has raised a host of complaints about its legality and validity.

Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian writer and 2010 Nobel Prize victor, participated in the massive demonstration that took place in Barcelona last week against Catalonia's push for independence from Spain.

Mr Cascado's comments have prompted a furious reaction from some supporters of Catalan independence. Fundacion La Caixa and Criteria also announced they move away from Catalonia to Palma de Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands.

As NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Barcelona, Catalonia's capital, the people in the region are almost evenly divided over the issue of independence even though many who are in favor of staying with Spain may not have voted in the referendum. Loiseau said the crisis following the 1 October referendum had to be resolved through dialogue within Spain.

Catalan leaders say they want to remain part of the European Union, but Brussels says that an independent Catalonia would automatically be out and have to reapply to join.

"I don't rule out anything", Rajoy said in an interview with the daily newspaper El Pais published October, 8 when asked about applying the constitutional provision that allows the suspension of autonomy and the imposition of direct rule from Madrid. Rajoy has said the central government could take direct control of Catalonia, which now has a measure of autonomy. Some chanted "Don't be fooled, Catalonia is Spain" and called for Catalan president Carles Puigdemont to go to prison.

Puigdemont will address the Catalan parliament at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday on "the current political situation" amid speculation he could ask the assembly to declare independence. Residents, some 7.5 million people, have also been able to maintain their national language: Catalan.

Pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont is coming under increasing pressure after a number of Catalan-based companies re-located outside of the region in the wake of an unofficial independence vote just over a week ago.

Many in the crowd forming in a central square are carrying Spanish and Catalan flags.

Marta Gimenez, a recent law school graduate who works for a major Spanish bank, said that the secessionists keep talking about how Catalonia is oppressed.

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