The Spanish government crackdown on Catalan separatists has intensified this week, with a judge jailing two of the movements leaders and the country’s constitutional court officially declaring the region’s Oct. 1 referendum to be illegal. However, after confusing the Spanish government with his independence (non) declaration, regional leader Carles Puigdemont is refusing to back down ahead of tomorrow’s second, and final, Spanish ultimatum.
According to Reuters, Puigdemont told a meeting of his party on Wednesday he would formally declare independence Thursday morning if Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy follows through with his threat to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, and suspend Catalonia’s regional autonomy – a decision that would likely lead to the arrest of Puigdemont and his government, followed by another violent crackdown on separatists.
Madrid has set a second and final deadline of 10 am local time Thursday for the Catalonian government to recant and officially revoke its symbolic declaration of independence, which Puigdemont suspended last week while hoping to negotiate with the Spanish government, Reuters reported.
Puigdemont has urged the European Union to mediate between Barcelona and Madrid, but EU member states have so far been reluctant to intervene, while Madrid has refused to even engage in any diplomatic contact. In what some interpreted as an attempt to stall until international concern intensified, Puigdemont delivered a confusing speech in which he neglected to clearly explain his government’s planned course of action, and also refused to clarify whether his government had in fact declared independence, a strategy he employed again on Monday when Barcelona blew through Madrid’s original deadline for withdrawing its independence bid.
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