21, October 2017
The parliament in Catalonia has harshly criticized the Spanish government for its intentions to take over the regional powers, saying it would do its utmost to defend sovereignty of the independence-seeking territory.
Carme Forcadell, who serves as the speaker of the parliament, said on Saturday that the chamber would not allow Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to dismantle the current regional government of Catalonia.
“Prime Minister Rajoy wants the parliament of Catalonia to stop being a democratic parliament, and we will not allow this to happen,” Forcadell said in a televised speech, adding that Madrid’s move to fire Catalonia’s government and force a new election is a “coup” and an “attack against democracy.”
“This is why we want to send to the citizens of this country a message of firmness and hope. We commit today, after the most serious attack against the Catalan institutions since they were restored, to the defense of the sovereignty of the parliament of Catalonia,” she said.
Forcadell’s statement came as about half a million people took to the streets of Barcelona to support the results of a controversial referendum earlier this month, which gave regional leader Carles Puigdemont the mandate to declare independence from Madrid.
Municipal police said around 450,000 people welcomed a call by Puigdemont and other secessionist leaders and rallied on Barcelona’s large Paseo de Gracia boulevard and nearby streets. Puigdemont joined the rally to the shouts of “President, President” by protesters who waved Catalonia’s yellow, red and blue Estelada separatist flag. He was later to address the protesters in a televised speech.
Demonstrators said they would defy Madrid’s measures to stop Catalonia from breaking away. “The Catalans are completely disconnected from Spanish institutions, and particularly anything to do with the Spanish state,” said a protester.
“They can destroy the government, they can destroy everything they want but we’ll keep on fighting,” said another.
Puigdemont was supposed to declare Catalonia independence from Madrid last Tuesday, when he attended a special parliament session in Barcelona. However, he suspended the declaration to allow talks with Madrid. The Spanish government has rejected talks as it views the entire independence process as constitutionally illegal.