The government of Catalonia, a wealthy region in northeastern Spain, has called a referendum on independence for October 1, triggering a constitutional crisis in the country.
Spanish Police vans are parked next to a ferry ship, rented by the Spanish Interior Ministry to house National Police and Civil Guard police officers, at Barcelona port on September 24, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.
The Catalan government earlier this week accused the Spanish authorities of effectively taking over its administration after state police raided its offices and arrested officials, and the finance ministry took control of the local finance department.
Whether it's sub-state separatism such as what Scotland's been trying to pull off with the United Kingdom and some forces in Northern Italy have historically advocated for, or superstate separatism such as Brexit and the earlier proposal for a Grexit, European unity is fraying like never before, and Catalonia's upcoming vote might just prove to be the catalyst which reinvigorates this continental trend with a new inertia.
"When democratic rights are suppressed, whether it's in South Africa, Ukraine, Russia, China, we're there", he said at the rally.
The civilian head of the Catalan police is part of the pro-secession regional government that is pushing ahead with plans for the vote despite the ballot's suspension by Spain's Constitutional Court.
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The Catalan government said Saturday it would resist Madrid's measures.
On the same day that the mass protest took place, the CNP raided several Catalan government offices using a court mandate, confiscating between nine and 10 million blank ballots to be used in the upcoming referendum.
Also on Friday, a Catalan regional judge ordered the release with restrictions of six people arrested on Wednesday in a crackdown on referendum preparations.
Why do officials in Catalonia want to hold a vote?
On Saturday, several hundred students remained inside a Barcelona university after spending the night there protesting the Spanish government's efforts to block the vote. "Students are a very important part of our society, the youngest, so we need to make them conscious of what's happening here", a young man at the demonstration told RT. Spain will deploy police reinforcements to Catalonia to help maintain order if an independence referendum pledged by Catalan officials but opposed by the national government goes ahead, officials said Friday. That support has been waning in recent months as Spain's national and regional economies have begun thriving.
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