Barcelona police sealed off a warehouse said to be housing the ballot boxes for the upcoming independence referendum, more police deployed in the region.
On September 28, the Guàrdia Urbana force seized almost 10 million papers relating to the upcoming ballot, amongst them voter lists, signs, and paperwork for counting votes. About 16,000 school and university students took to the streets of Barcelona demanding that the vote go ahead, BBC reports.
The Spanish government deployed more state police to maintain order and prevent the vote taking place, Reuters reports citing Spanish Interior Ministry.
Madrid has vowed to shut down the plebiscite, as Spain’s Constitutional Court decided that the vote is breaching the Constitution.
The dispute between the regional government in Barcelona and the Spanish government has become increasingly bitter in recent weeks, with several high-ranking Catalan officials involved in organizing the referendum arrested, and mass protests in the region’s capital of Barcelona and other towns.
Despite the detractors, Catalonia’s separatist government is set to go ahead with the referendum on October 1 aimed to decide whether the region should split from Spain.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont says he intends to defy Madrid’s orders and has called upon Catalan citizens to “defend democracy against a repressive and intimidating regime” by going to the polls to vote as planned, as reported by CNN.
Catalonia is a wealthy region in Spain’s northeast. Although it has its own regional government (Generalitat) which already has considerable powers over healthcare, education and tax collection, it still pays tax to Madrid, which some politicians argue is distributed unfairly.
Catalan nationalists argue that they are a separate nation with their own history, culture and language, and that they should have increased independence.