Catalan independence referendum – one year on

WATCH: Huge fire now contained in Spain’s Petrer in the Valencian Community. Image: BomberosAlicante

THE one-year anniversary of the Cataluña independence referendum took place last Monday, with pro-secession groups cutting roads across the region to mark the occasion.
Leading pro-independence figures such as President Quim Torra and his predecessor Carles Puigdemont also commented on the anniversary of the vote which Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled was illegal.
Protest groups, believed to be leftist independence supporters, began cutting roads leading to petrol stations and oil depots in a bid to cut off strategic points in the region. Streets in Barcelona and Lleida were also occupied.
Demonstrators occupied Girona’s high-speed railway station, with pictures on social media showing them sat on the rail line which had been covered in Catalan flags.
Protesters also stormed a Spanish government office there and lowered Spain’s flag which they replaced with the Catalan estelada banner.
Rail links between Barcelona, Figueres and Girona were restored at around 10am on Monday.
Quim Torra, Cataluña’s pro-independence president, visited a polling station in Sant Julia de Ramis. Police had stopped voters including former president Puigdemont from voting there last year.
Torra said that everything had begun last October 1 and that everything that had happened in the region since went back to the vote.
“The lesson of October 1 and its values are what we need as we face the coming weeks and months,” Torra said.
Puigdemont said in a video message that supporters should not stray from the cause of Catalan independence.
“The Catalan republic and its international recognition is the only possible way to live in a full democracy,” he said.
It comes as a police report on the run up to the referendum made public this week showed officials were making an inventory of regional assets prior to the vote.
Catalan government officials Oriol Junqueras and Josep Lluis Salvado had drawn up a list of some 4,630 public properties around six months before the vote was held. Their value was estimated at more than €19.1 billion.
Police claimed Catalan authorities planned to seize those assets in the immediate aftermath of a referendum victory to bolster the new republic’s accounts and to organise its institutional framework.
Around 43 per cent of Catalan voters took part in the referendum last year, according to official polling data.
Pictures of Spanish riot police attempting to stop voters casting their ballots were broadcast around the world, with 991 people left injured according to Catalan authorities.
The referendum was previously ruled out by the Constitutional Court which argued Spanish law did not allow for independence referendums.
More than 90 per cent of those who took part backed independence while almost 8 per cent voted against. Many of those opposed to secession refused to take part.
Cataluña’s Generalitat declared independence from Spain days later. Madrid responded by placing the region under direct rule and issuing arrest warrants for Puigdemont and other pro-independence politicians, many of which remain imprisoned or in exile abroad.

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