13:11 GMT +321 October 2018
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    Pro independence supporters wave estelada or pro independence flags during a rally in support for the secession of the Catalonia region from Spain, in Vitoria, northern Spain, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017

    Catalan Town Mayor Threatened With Arrest, Vows to Hold Independence Vote

    © AP Photo / Alvaro Barrientos
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    The mayor of Rasquera in Catalonia, Spain’s autonomous community striving for independence, told Sputnik that Madrid authorities had threatened to arrest him if he facilitated the possible independence referendum, but to no avail.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Mayor Josep Gonzalez Gil said he had received notification from Spain that he could be arrested, but he is still determined to help facilitate the vote, as he only recognizes the Catalan parliament and government.

    There will be "no gain" for Rasquera if Spain does not allow Catalonia's secession, as Madrid has hardly done anything to support the town, Gonzalez said.

    "Catalonia is not Spain. Spain has for years threatened our culture and our language. I live in a town near the Ebro River and Spain with its national hydrological plan always wants to use and abuse our water endangering Ebro's delta. There has always been excess funds transmission from Catalonia to Spain and low return," the mayor explained.

    Referring to Madrid’s warning that it will cut electricity in Catalonia on the day of the referendum to prevent it from going smoothly, Gonzalez said that such a situation would be "no problem" for local authorities. Electricity is not needed in an area where there is sunlight for 12 hours a day, the official pointed out.

    There is no permanent police force in Rasquera, as they come from other towns, the mayor noted, adding that it is for the police to decide whether to abide by Madrid’s orders on the day of the likely referendum.

    "The main strategy Spain could endorse, I think, is [putting] some police at the polling stations’ doors, to try and frighten people. If we resist, pacifically, we will win," Gonzalez pointed out.

    Commenting on the possibility of referendum-related riots in Rasquera, Gonzalez said there had previously been no violence in years when the major demonstrations had occurred.

    "At least, [violence never happened] in my town, where everybody is known to be overwhelmingly pro-independence. No space for confrontation then," Gonzalez continued.

    The official also discussed how Catalonia can benefit from leaving Spain.

    "Protection of our culture, investment in our territory, stopping of the Spanish hydrological plan, train Mediterranean corridor (awaited for many years), roads, facilities. Everything that should have been done years ago," Gonzalez concluded.

    Catalonia has been seeking independence from Spain for years. On November 9, 2014, about 80 percent of the Catalans who took part in a non-binding referendum on the region's status as part of Spain voted in favor of Catalonia becoming an independent state. The vote was, however, ruled unconstitutional by Madrid authorities.

    On June 9, the president of the autonomous region, Carles Puigdemont, said that Catalonia would hold a unilateral referendum on independence on October 1, 2017, prompting criticism and objections from Madrid.

    On September 6, Catalonia’s Parliament passed a bill enabling an independence referendum to be held on October 1. The Spanish government called the bill illegal and challenged the legislation in the Constitutional Court. The next day, Spain's Constitutional Court suspended the Catalan law on referendum. Catalan authorities vowed to hold the referendum despite the court's ruling.


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