Spanish Police Protest, Demanding More Pay Amid Catalan Crisis

Catalan Separatists Squeezed Further as Spain Tightens Its Grip

The police crackdown on the independence referendum in the affluent Spanish region led to over 800 people being injured and mass protests, with 700,000 people taking to the streets of Barcelona to vent their anger and voice support for the local authorities.

Catalonia-based utility Gas Natural said its board had made a decision to move its registered office to Madrid for as long as the legal uncertainty in Catalonia continued.

Another regional police officer, Teresa Laplana, was also questioned through videoconference due to health issues.

In Barcelona, protesters chanted "let's talk" in Catalan, while many carried signs criticising political leaders for not finding a diplomatic solution to the impasse.

And while it has long sought independence, the most recent push came after a Spanish court overturned an agreement that gave it more autonomy in 2010 amid a global economic downturn.

"We are going to stop independence from happening".

The prosperous and powerful northeastern regional Catalan government says it plans to declare independence from Spain, creating Spain's gravest constitutional crisis in decades.

There were some brief moments of tension when the edges of the pro-unity and pro-dialogue demonstrations, the latter numbering roughly 1,500 people, coincided in the same central boulevard in Madrid, with a line of police separating the two groups.

The rallies throughout the country urged political leaders to meet and negotiate the terms of Catalonia's possible secession after the Spanish Constitutional Court banned the Catalan parliament from meeting. They marched across 50 Spanish cities, carrying banners calling for peace and dialogue between leaders.

The demonstration was a much more peaceful scene than what happened on October 1, when 90 percent of Catalans who voted in an outlawed referendum favored secession from Spain.

Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital, is Spain's wealthiest region and has its own language and distinct culture.

Concern is growing in European Union capitals about the negative impact of the crisis on the Spanish economy, the fourth largest in the euro zone, and on possible spillovers to other economies.

The minister also warned Catalans that a parliamentary declaration of independence "is not enough" and that the global community needs to recognize independent nations.

Unless there is a U-turn, he said, the Spanish state "will annul the autonomy, more repression, more police forces and we will have a military intervention". An Interior Ministry official later apologized for the injuries but laid the blame on the Catalan government for having encouraged people to vote.

Spain's main stock index was down slightly Friday, with Catalan banks leading losses amid the uncertainty.

The warning comes after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said that the Catalan parliament would declare independence "in the coming days", as the result of an unsanctioned referendum in which more than 90 percent of those who voted backed independence.

Spain has defended police actions, saying they were firm and proportionate, but videos on Sunday saw police yanking people by their hair and kicking and hitting them. "They've never wanted to listen to us".

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