Spanish police arrive to stop Catalan independence vote

01/10/2017 - 15:11 Published in News/General

After Catalan police failed to stop a vote for independence, Spanish police descended Sunday on several voting areas throughout Catalonia to stop what authorities consider to be an illegal act.

 

Tensions rose in some voting centers, including Saint Julia de Ramis School in Girona and Ramon Llull School in Barcelona, as dozens of anti-riot Spanish police blocked Catalan activists from voting, according to images from Spanish broadcasters.

However, in dozens of other centers, the situation remained calm with the Catalan government reporting that 73 percent of centers were open. The Catalan police force (Mossos d’Esquadra) had orders to clear out the voting centers by 6 a.m. (0400GMT) Sunday morning, but in many cases, they did not stop it.

In the Official Language School Drassanes in Barcelona, activists slept inside overnight and more came at 5 a.m. for passive resistance. The Mossos arrived around 6.30 a.m. but did not even try to clear out the building.

 

"The Mossos are the good guys," Bernard, 60, from Barcelona told Anadolu Agency when they arrived.

Later, when the ballot boxes arrived by car, the Mossos blocked the car for about twenty minutes, but later left and allowed the activists to bring the ballot boxes inside, and the voting allegedly began, contrary to the Spanish central government's wishes.

According to Spanish daily El Pais, prosecutors will take action against the Catalan police for their inaction.

Yet, shortly after the voting was to begin, organizers said that the Internet connection between the applications where they would validate the voters’ identification was not working, and that it had been blocked by the Spanish government.

As more reports surface about Spanish police cracking down on voting stations throughout the region, a group of people stood around the ballot boxes in the language school – the last line of defense.

"We are waiting for the police to arrive and we are going to have a passive resistance… we don’t want a battle but we are going to try to stop them," Juan Balli, 44 said.

Despite the technological problems, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who had announced that he would be voting in the Saint Julia de Ramis School in Girona, where the police presence is heavy, said he voted at another location.

In a press conference earlier in the morning, Catalan leaders said that if they were unable to vote at one location, Catalans could vote in another.

The vote is planned to finish on Sunday evening, and what happens to the ballots during the counting process, if there is one, is still unknown.

If Catalans vote Yes for independence, which is expected as No voters are boycotting the vote for the most part, the pro-separatist Catalan government has said it will declare independence if they consider the vote valid.

The Spanish government remains firm that this will not be a legitimate vote no matter what happens.