Thousands of angry Catalans have protested outside their region’s government offices in Barcelona after Spanish police had earlier raided the building and arrested several officials and a junior minister.
Central government in Madrid in trying to stop Catalonia from holding a banned independence referendum by confiscating voting materials.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy later went on national television to urge Catalans to abandon the October 1st poll saying it was illegal and causing divisions nationwide.
“Disobedience to the law by a public power is the opposite of democracy. Now is an impossible chimera or an excuse to delve even more in the fracture they have caused in Catalan society “
Police raids on printers, newspaper offices and delivery companies have caused resentment outside Catalonia. In Madrid some see the Catalan issue as a fight for democratic rights which drove hundreds out onto the streets of the capital in support.
“We see this as a solidarity demonstration with Catalonia because we understand that the referendum is not only a Catalan problem, is a problem for the whole country,” said demonstrator Angel Mendez.
For Lara Hijon it was a case of needing to up hold the people’s will: “Above all it’s the right to decide by direct democracy, and that is a referendum.”
But others disagree. Spain’s Constitutional Court suspended the vote after a government legal challenge claiming it contravenes the 1978 constitution which says Spain is indivisible.
Read our explainer on Catalonia’s independence referendum