Catalan leader signs document declaring independence from Spain

Wednesday, 11 Oct, 2017

"Catalonia will be an independent State in the form of a republic", was first launched Carles Puigdemont, the tribune of the Parliament, to much applause.

Catalonia's leader stepped back from a formal declaration of independence from Spain on Tuesday, claiming a mandate to launch secession but saying he would delay doing so to allow time for talks with Madrid on the region's future.

"Any dialogue between democrats has to take place within the law".

Both Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government and European Council President Donald Tusk had urged Puigdemont not to proclaim independence.

But a 2010 move by Spain's Constitutional Court to water down a statute that gave Catalonia additional powers, combined with a deep economic meltdown in Spain, sparked a surge in support for independence.

"I propose suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks in the coming weeks without which it is not possible to reach an agreed solution", Mr Puigdemont told MPs. "We're not criminals", Puigdemont said, as translated by the BBC interpreter.

But the Spanish government argues the referendum itself was illegal. The Spanish government through the Prime Minister Soraya Saenz Santamaria said that it would react to a declaration of independence.

The Catalan leader "doesn't know where he is, where he is going and with whom he wants to go", she said.

Rajoy's conservative government planned to decide on next steps over Catalonia at a meeting on Wednesday, and he was in consultations with other parties about how to proceed.

Catalonia "has the right to become independent", Puigdemont declared to cheers from lawmakers.

Joan Barcelo, a researcher on political conflicts at Washington University in St. Louis, said the mixed messages sent by Puigdemont's speech did little in his effort to rally worldwide support. Whatever happens next, the political gulf between Madrid and Barcelona will take some time to heal, if it ever can. "He was trying not to burn bridges to dialogue, but he's going to create doubts among his supporters".

"It's unacceptable to make a tacit declaration of independence to then suspend it in an explicit manner", a central government spokesperson told reporters in Madrid.

"We are not criminals, we are not insane, we are not pulling off a coup, we are not out of our minds".

"The effects of the independence vote have to be suspended while we seek a dialogue", he told lawmakers.

"This is a coup". "We will not allow this term to end without the application of the results of the referendum". Many Catalans believe Madrid has never truly respected them as equals.

The national police were also condemned for their aggression in trying to stop the referendum and many Catalans would not be comfortable with their presence in large numbers.

Puigdemont's speech marked a critical point in a decade-long standoff between Catalan separatists and Spain's central authorities.

Some 500 people, some holding the Catalan flag, demonstrate outside the Spanish Consulate in Perpignan on October 2, 2017 to protest against police violence during a banned independence referendum in the Catalan region in Spain.

"It's very clear to me that those who I represent won't accept any other scenario", Benet Salellas said during an interview at the regional parliament. Those who opposed the referendum had said they would boycott the vote. The referendum was held on 1st October. Since Catalonia doesn't border any other countries besides Spain, it would be left pretty isolated. There were helicopters overhead, huge screens in the street for people to watch. For some, his move to not declare outright secession was disappointing. "I still think we'll get an independent Catalan state". If Spain rejects Puigdemont's invitation for dialogue, "that will allow [Catalonia] to say that the Spanish government is really, truly try to present Spain as an inflexible partner in a conversation that would require worldwide intervention", he says. "Mediation with Spain is useless", he said.

Catala said that the Madrid government does not recognize "neither the law, suspended by the constitutional court, nor the referendum and the declaration of independence". Pro-unity protesters turned out by the hundreds of thousands over the weekend.

Catalonia's biggest banks, Caixabank and Banco Sabadell, and the Bank of Spain declined to comment.

FRAYER: "Catalonia is a European affair", he said. The moves of the firms' bases have not so far affected jobs or investments, but they don't send a message of confidence in the Puigdemont government.