Madrid puts the finances of Catalonia under tutelage

Ⓒ AFP – Josep LAGO – | Catalans applaud the official launch of the “yes”
campaign in the referendum on self-determination, on 14 September
2017 in Tarragona

The Spanish government further reinforced on Friday the
control of spending in Catalonia, to prevent a single euro
funding the referendum of self-determination that Catalan
leaders want to organize despite its ban.

“We have established a new system of expenditure control” to
prevent them from financing “illegal activities” such as the
referendum, said Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro at the
conclusion of the Council of Ministers.

The separatist leaders of Catalonia, a region deeply divided
between supporters and opponents of a secession from Spain,
want to hold a referendum on 1 October despite all warnings
from Madrid.

To avoid any embezzlement of funds towards the organization
of the ballot, the State will pay directly the salaries of
civil servants, social allowances, and the payment of the bills
of the suppliers of the public services, explained Montoro.

The government’s decision coincided with the release of an
open letter from the Catalan regional president Carles
Puigdemont, Oriol Junqueras and the president of the Catalan
parliament Carme Forcadell, to which the mayor of Barcelona Ada
colau.

Addressing the head of government Mariano Rajoy and King
Felipe VI, they denounce an “unprecedented repression” of the
state against the supporters of the referendum and launch a
“call for dialogue” for the state to authorize.

“It is ironic on the part of those who have refused any
dialogue except on one subject – the only one that interests
them – a referendum on independence,” replied the government
spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo,

Ⓒ AFP – Sonia GONZALEZ – | Catalonia in search of independence

“The right to secession is not envisaged by the
Constitution,” insisted the spokesman, a position shared by the
majority of parties in Spain.

The separatists have been in the majority in the Catalan
Parliament since 2015, but the Catalan society is divided
almost equally according to the polls. On the other hand, more
than 70% of the Catalans would like to be able to express
themselves in a referendum.

– Rajoy’s Warning –

Mariano Rajoy traveled to Barcelona on Friday evening to the
headquarters of the People’s Party he headed, as if to show
that he was still at home, and assured that he would continue
to act to prevent the referendum taking place.

“The Civil Guard seized more than 100,000 propaganda posters
of the Generalitat (the Catalan regional government),” he
said.

This police force raided a new printing house on Friday.

“Do not underestimate the strength of Spanish democracy,”
Rajoy said. “The rule of law is working. Some may not have
realized it yet, they would do better to realize it.”

Since the calling of the referendum on 6 September, the
government and the judiciary have acted on all fronts to
prevent it.

Thus, the main independence leaders and the mayors
supporting them risk prosecution to participate in the
organization of the voting.

Nearly 750 of the 948 Catalan mayors want to participate in
the organization.

Ⓒ AFP – Josep LAGO – | Supporters of the independence of Catalonia gathered in
the stadium of Tarragona, September 14, 2017

But five of the ten biggest Catalan cities are opposed to
the ballot. The mayor of Barcelona, ​​city of 1.6 million
inhabitants, remains cautious: she said she would not put
obstacles in its holding.

Mr. Rajoy wanted to reassure “threatened mayors” because
they refuse to participate in the referendum. “We are with you,
we are many, we are the majority,” he said.

The Spanish employers approved the measures taken by the
government. Businesses need legal security and “when it is
impaired, we must take all necessary measures” to restore it,
explained Juan Rosell, the boss of the Spanish bosses.

If they succeed in organizing the referendum and win, the
separatists ensure that they will proclaim the independence of
this region, with 16% of the Spanish population.

The spurt of secessionist fever in
Catalonia, which has its own language and culture, was partly
fueled by the economic crisis of 2008.

But for the independentists the detonator was the partial
cancellation in 2010 by the Constitutional Court of a new
“autonomy status of Catalonia” which broadened its competences
and defined it as a “nation”.

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