What was feared has happened. The arrest in Barcelona of 14 senior executives in the Catalan government, accompanied by detailed searches and the seizure of 10 million electoral cards, is an unprecedented episode in democratic Spain. But it is just as serious that the regional government of Catalonia, through the approval of an ad hoc law, has called for a referendum on Oct. 1, in defiance of the Constitution, to decide on the possible “secession” of the wealthiest Spanish region, where 7.5 million Spanish citizens live.
The national government and the Constitutional Court do not acknowledge this decision and have begun to boycott the referendum weeks ago. On Thursday, it moved from words to the facts. “What happened is equivalent to the end of regional autonomy and the break of the Confederation Pact, which holds together the autonomic regions of Spain,” said Carles Puigdemont, the president of the Catalan government.
Thousands of Catalans have taken to the streets to protest the arrests. Even Podemos, represented by its leader Pablo Iglesias, spoke of “the shocking return of detainees in Spain.”