The world is watching Catalonia’s painful uprising for a separate statehood. Catalan’s regional leader, Carles Puigdemont, has declared that 90% of Catalans have agreed to separate Catalonia from Spain. The referendum process was marred with police brutality, with over 800 hurt in clashes. Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, however, has denied the referendum and calls the display of resistance by the Catalans a ‘mockery of democracy’.
Around 42.3% of Catalonia’s population turned up to vote on Sunday. Close to 2.3 million of the 5.3 million eligible voters turned up to the polling booths even as police forces attempted to block the process. Besides confiscating polling boxes and papers, the police also used force against the protesters, fired rubber bullets and beat firemen who were trying to protect the locals in Girona. The Catalan police - the Mossos d'Esquadra refused to use force against the protesters and allowed the polling process to take place.
Puigdemont was confident that Catalonia’s separation from Spain is certain. "My government in the next few days will send the results of today's vote to the Catalan parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the law of the referendum", Puigdemont said in a televised address. On the flip side, Rajoy condemned the referendum and said that it violated Spain's 1978 constitution, which states the country is indivisible.
Catalonia is a wealthy region in Spain that has a distinct language, culture and which enjoys a certain degree of autonomy. Catalan independence was a movement that had begun in 1922, when it won an autonomous stature under the Spanish Republic. Later, the autonomy was abolished under the regime of military dictator Francisco Franco from 1939-1975. France had also banned the Catalan language and culture from public spheres. After Spain’s declaration of Democracy, it one again enjoyed the autonomous stature. However, the Catalans feel cheated with the way they are treated.
Catalonia is home for 16% of the Spanish population, contributes 19% of the Spain’s GDP and accounts for 25% of the country’s exports. The pro-independence activists argue that Catalonia receives much less than what they pay to the country in taxes.