They insisted that the 5,343,358 people with the right “will vote” and that the result will “have value and legitimacy”.
The Catalan government said police had occupied its communications hub and would remain there for two days after Catalonia’s High Court ordered police to prevent electronic voting and instructed Google to delete an application it said was being used to spread information on the vote.
Barcelona’s home match against Las Palmas falls on the day when the region’s secessionist leaders have vowed to defy authorities and hold a disputed referendum on independence from the rest of Spain.
Spanish and Catalan Police officers watch a pro-independence rally in Barcelona.
Tensions around Catalonia’s upcoming independence referendum have spilled onto the soccer pitch in Spain after a warning from the country’s national football league that one of its crown jewels, FC Barcelona, would be expelled if the region seceded.
March 2014: Spain’s Constitutional Court rules that Catalonia can’t go ahead with a planned November 9 vote on its independence, as all Spaniards must be allowed to cast a ballot.
Hundreds gathered in the centre of the capital Madrid waving Spanish flags and chanting “Spanish unity” and “Don’t fool us – Catalonia is Spain”.
But Spain’s central government downplayed the risk of violence.
“We don’t know what can happen tomorrow, anything can happen”, she said.
In an open letter, tweeted by referendum supporter Julian Assange, Chomsky et al decried the Spanish government’s handling of the issue.
When asked by Anadolu Agency: “On a scale of one to 10, how optimistic are you that a vote will happen, and if that vote happens, and “yes” wins, that Catalonia will declare independence?”
The Spanish government maintains that the referendum is unconstitutional and the country’s Constitutional Court suspended the vote so it could consider the matter.
“Stop this escalation of radicalism and disobedience once and for all”, he urged pro-independence protesters in a televised statement last week. In this case, however, it amounts to the Spanish national government trying to undermine an election carried out by regional authorities on a possible secession, which seems a grey area.
It is so because no opposition party in Catalonia (Catalan Socialists, liberal Ciudadanos and conservative Popular Party, together with parts of Catalunya Sí Que Es Pot, a big leftist coalition) has agreed to take part in the vote.
“I think it’s about democracy and liberty”, Ramon Hernández, 80, said. “If they tell me I can’t be in a public school to exercise my democratic rights, they will have to take me out of here”. Instead, it says Catalans should decide and has criticised Spain’s attempts to prevent the vote going ahead.
But the impact of Spain’s economic crisis, followed by the Constitutional Court’s partial cancellation in 2010 of a statute giving Catalonia greater autonomy, turned this into outright anger, he adds. Prior to the vote, Madrid launched a crackdown on Catalonia, local government buildings were raided and top-ranking Catalonian officials, including Junior Economy Minister Josep Maria Jové, were arrested over referendum documents.