Contributed by Joe Montero
In the lead up to the intended 1 October independence from Spain referendum in Catalonia, police have raided the Catalan government’s offices of the departments for Economic Affairs, Foreign Relations and the Presidency and arrested officials, including the junior economy minister, Josep Maria Jove.
The day before, a trove of documents were confiscated from the private delivery company Unipost in the Catalan city of Terrasa.
This followed last Friday’s announcement by the Conservative Mariano Rahoy government in Madrid that it was taking over control of the Catalan government’s finances, a move designed to hinder the carrying out of the referendum. It has also taken over the payment of public sector workers, effectively making them employees of the central government.
The Catalan government will lose funds to provide for such things as healthcare, education and public infrastructure.
In addition, the banks have been instructed to control all movements of cash in the accounts and credit cards of all Catalan leaders.
The pro-independence parties won the 2015 regional election and were able to form a coalition government between them, with 72 seats in the 135-seat parliament.
This government has accused Madrid of a “totalitarian attitude” and ”unlawful” arrests and is challenging its actions in Spain’s Supreme Court, although the court has already announced that it would not intervene until it had made a ruling.
Catalonia’s pro-separatist government challenged Madrid’s actions in Spain’s Supreme Court, but a court spokeswoman said it was “in force” and would not be suspended while judges rule on its legality.
Despite the barriers set up, the Catalan government remains defiant and determined to press ahead with the referendum. At least 70 percent of the 7.5 million people living in Catalonia behind this.
For Madrid, the move looks like desperation and it will have repercussions, not only in Catalonia, but in the other regions also seeking their independence. It will also impact across a Spain, where much of the population has turned away from the traditional political parties and politicians and demand a new course for the country.