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From 'Long Live Catalonia' Companys to 'Follow the People's Will' Puigdemont

© AP PhotoPresident Lluis Companys, who had proclaimed the new Independent Catalan Republic, pictured after he had surrendered to Government troops in Barcelona, Spain, on Oct. 7, 1934.
President Lluis Companys, who had proclaimed the new Independent Catalan Republic, pictured after he had surrendered to Government troops in Barcelona, Spain, on Oct. 7, 1934. - Sputnik International
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A powerful presence in Catalan history and former president of the region, Lluis Companys has declared a Catalan state in 1934, but the nation only lasted 10 hours. With the current developments in Spain, following the Catalan referendum, we take a closer look at the former leader and his complex fate.

More than 80 years ago, the former Catalan leader Lluis Companys declared a "Catalan state within the framework of a Spanish federal republic." It, however, did not last long. 

In the 1930s Spain was gripped by political turmoil.

The monarchy stepped down after their popularity plunged because of their support for the dictator Primo de Rivera, and the Spanish republic was soon pitted into battle with the right-wing nationalist forces of Francisco Franco.

After he announced Catalonia a state in 1934, Companys, a lawyer, was thrown into prison. He was freed during the Spanish Civil War.

In 1938, Catalonia was conquered by Franco's forces.

Companys fled to France but after the German invasion he ended up in the hands of the Gestapo, who handed him over to Franco, who tortured him and a kangaroo court sentenced him to death.

On October 15, 1940 Companys, who refused to wear a blindfold, was executed by firing squad at Montjuic Castle in Barcelona.

"Per Catalunya [Long Live Catalonia]," were his last words.

Companys is buried at the famous Montjuic cemetery and his grave became a shrine for Catalan separatists.

He is the only democratically elected leader of a European state to have been executed.

Veiled Threat?  

Earlier this week, Catalonia's President Carles Puigdemont received what was perceived as a veiled threat from a spokesperson for Spain's ruling party. Casado suggested Puigdemont might end up like Companys. 

Casado later clarified his comments, claiming it was not meant as a threat but more as a warning against "repeating history."

"This is not a matter of left against right, it is about freedom against totalitarianism. Those who are encouraging violence are the separatists," said Casado.

Back to the Future

On Wednesday, October 11, Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned Catalonia he was considering impose direct rule on the region.

© REUTERS / Eloy AlonsoA woman holds up a banner reading "Democracy" depicting former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco kissing Spanish Prime Miniser Mariano Rajoy during a protest one day after the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 2, 2017.
A woman holds up a banner reading Democracy depicting former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco kissing Spanish Prime Miniser Mariano Rajoy during a protest one day after the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 2, 2017.  - Sputnik International
A woman holds up a banner reading "Democracy" depicting former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco kissing Spanish Prime Miniser Mariano Rajoy during a protest one day after the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 2, 2017.
Rajoy accused Puigdemont of having created "deliberate confusion" and said he wanted to restore "certainty."

The declaration of a Catalan state was actually the fourth time Catalonia had been created.

Previous attempts in 1641, 1873 and 1931 all failed.

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