Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Catalonia's Carles Puigdemont Suspends Independence

Catalonia's Carles Puigdemont Suspends Independence

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said later Tuesday that the region had "earned the right" to independence, but he stopped short of declaring an immediate split from Spain.

Crowds of thousands gathered outside the parliament building in Barcelona on Tuesday evening, waving Catalan flags and banners screaming "democracy" in the hope of witnessing a historic night in a region that remains deeply divided over independence.

In a speech to the Catalan Parliament, Carles Puigdemont said he will follow the will of those who voted in the October 1 referendum. But the poll was poorly monitored and many Catalans opposed to secession boycotted an illegal plebiscite that triggered a vio lent police crackdown.

"By being the president, I assume my responsibility to declare that Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic".

The head of Catalonia called on the Parliament to suspend the process of independence of the Republic to hold a dialogue with Madrid for developing a coherent solution. After a confusing speech in front of the Parliament, Carles Puigdemont, has signed a declaration of independence that it has immediately suspended in order to give his chance to the dialogue.

Spain called an emergency Cabinet meeting for Wednesday, and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was scheduled to address the Spanish parliament afterward.

"In the event there will be a declaration of independence, I will tell the board that my advice and my recommendation would be to change Freixenet's headquarters", he told CNN.

Puigdemont and other Catalan leaders have pushed for European Union mediation, but it's not clear the European Union is open to the idea, and it's very clear Spain isn't open to it.

Tensions have only escalated since, with Spain's King Felipe VI making an unusual political intervention to say that the referendum's organizers had put themselves "outside the law".

"With a Spanish state that continues to harass and persecute us?" she said.

Despite this, the signing of an independence declaration will be viewed by Madrid as an act of provocation and Mr Rajoy will struggle to find a way to respond that satisfies everyone.

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The declaration reads: "We call on all states and worldwide organisations to recognise the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state". "Independence is our future and depends on us, young people".

Madrid has repeatedly said it would not negotiate on Catalonia's independence.

One of Spain's top business leaders warned Tuesday that independence for Catalonia would be "a disaster".

The Spanish government appealed to Puigdemont earlier on Tuesday to reflect and not take an irrevocable step.

The central government fired back, with a spokesman rejecting what Madrid termed Catalonia's "tacit" independence declaration.

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Puigdemont delays an appearance in the regional parliament until yesterday.

"The battle of European values is under way and we have to win it", he said, drawing parallels between such challenges to the European project from populist and separatist sentiments that have been gaining traction in Europe recently.

Property group Inmobiliaria Colonial and infrastructure firm Abertis both made a decision to relocate their head offices to Madrid and telecoms firm Cellnex said it would do the same for as long as political uncertainty in Catalonia continued.

Demonstrators challenge Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra regional police officers at the end of a march in downtown Barcelona, Spain, to protest the Catalan government's push for secession from the rest of Spain, Sunday Oct. 8, 2017.

The move would be a risk for Mr Rajoy.

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