Catalan mayors back independence vote
BARCELONA, Spain (AP):
More than 700 mayors from Catalonia met yesterday in Barcelona in a show of strength amid pressure from Spain's central government not to hold an independence referendum for the north-eastern region.
Political tensions in Spain are increasing as the proposed voting date of October 1 nears. The Catalan government has been scrambling to push forward the vote, despite the central government's warnings that local municipalities are not allowed to use public buildings for it and mayors can be legally prosecuted for it.
Hundreds of mayors stood yesterday next to regional President Carles Puigdemont and Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau in Barcelona, the capital and main city in the region.
"We will not be intimidated. This is not about independence, it's about our rights," said Colau.
Puigdemont thanked the mayors for not backing down and insisted that most Catalans are determined to press ahead despite the ban.
Catalonia's regional police force is under orders to arrest the mayors if they refuse to appear for questioning in an investigation into the vote, which Spain's constitutional court has suspended.