Spain protesters demand action over Catalonia crisis

Banco Sabadell relocates outside of Catalonia

In an interview, he also rejected any mediation to resolve the crisis.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has threatened to declare independence early next week, and hundreds of thousands of Catalan protesters marched in favor of splitting from Spain this week.

However, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told daily El Pais on Sunday he will do what he must to defend Spanish sovereignty.

In Barcelona, protesters chanted "let's talk" in Catalan, while many carried signs criticising political leaders for not finding a diplomatic solution to the impasse.

The wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia, with its own language and culture, held a referendum last Sunday on independence, in defiance of the Spanish constitutional court which had ruled the vote illegal. Some of the demonstrators took to rooftops, including families with children, and leaned over ledges from their perches overlooking the streets below to wave giant Spanish flags in a city accustomed to the prevalence of the Catalan "estelada". "This [the situation in Catalonia] is a battle of Europe", he said.

After a referendum over independence was held last Sunday, several companies made a decision to move their headquarters away from this Spanish northeastern region, Xinhua news agency reported.

Spain's red-and-yellow flag has always been taboo here in Catalonia and throughout the country because it has been linked to groups supportive of Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship.

The official results of the vote show that 90.18 percent, or more than 2.28 million voters, favored secession of Catalonia from Spain, with turnout exceeding 43 percent.

Almost 900 people were injured as the police, trying to enforce a Spanish court ban on the vote, attempted to disperse voters.


It is unclear how widespread Vila's moderate position is inside the Catalan government, which is being pressured by separatist grassroots groups and the far-left party CUP to declare independence soon.

The stark warning came days before Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is expected to address the region's parliament, on Tuesday, when he could unilaterally declare independence.

On October 1, Catalonia held the independence referendum, which is not recognized by the Spanish authorities.

But Sunday marks the second consecutive day of protests in Spain, with thousands marching on Saturday, calling for dialogue to defuse the tense situation.

An overwhelming majority of voters pushed for Catalonia's independence from Spain in the referendum held October 1.

"If Catalonia has the strength, and the will, and the determination to become an independent country, then we could turn our country into a Mediterranean Denmark."

Raul Briones, 40 wearing a Spanish national soccer team shirt said: "The people who have come to demonstrate don't feel Catalan so much as Spanish".

Until this weekend, Mr Rajoy has remained vague on whether he would use article 155 of the constitution, the so-called nuclear option which enables him to sack the regional government and call a local election.

The warnings by the business sector have coincided with the first calls from within Puigdemont's government to hold off on a declaration of independence.

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