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.
Spain's ruling party warns Catalan president may end up like Lluís Companys, arrested (1934) & executed (1940) after declaring Catalan state pic.twitter.com/DPuA93YQYT— Catalan News (@catalannews) 9 October 2017
He is the only democratically elected leader of a European state to have been executed.
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.
This what happens when the EU is silent on mass violence towards votershttps://t.co/7JREUNaSIh— Julian Assange 🔹 (@JulianAssange) 9 October 2017
PP spokesman threatens Catalan president to end up like president Companys: imprisoned in 1934; executed by Franco in 1940. pic.twitter.com/SudMTi9wpa— Crida Democràcia (@CridaDemocracia) October 9, 2017
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.
The declaration of a Catalan state was actually the fourth time Catalonia had been created.
Previous attempts in 1641, 1873 and 1931 all failed.