by Andy Braham
Over the weekend, the autonomous Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia held an illegal independence plebiscite. The vote, which was declared illegitimate and unconstitutional by the federal government and courts happened even with heavy repression by the pro-union side. Over the past few weeks, police have raided printing shops producing polling materials and arrested pro-separatist activists. Authorities shut down dozens of websites providing polling information and news sites favorable to an independent Catalonia. These actions did not hamper the momentum of the movement and in fact stirred larger outrage and demonstrations.
In preparation for the vote, the federal government sent thousands of federal police officers and other paramilitary forces to Catalonia to repress voting. On election day, millions waited in schools and other public places for the voting to begin. At the same time, police forces broke into polling places, stole ballot boxes, and shot rubber bullets at peaceful voters. Protests erupted in the streets between the increasing aggressive police forces and voters. Many voters were beaten up and over 800 were sent to the hospital by the end of the day. The police closed several hundred out a few thousand polling places. So far, about half the votes have been counted, and 90% are in favor of secession. The prime minister has denounced the result as a mockery of democracy.
(Sourcing: Antiwar.com, Al Jazeera, BBC, El Pais)