Spain threatens to cut funding for Catalonia over independence referendum

Emilio Banks
September 16, 2017

The Catalan government's draft referendum bill stipulated that if a majority of Catalans vote for independence, Catalonia would secede within 48 hours of the result.

Spain's 17 regions pay taxes to the central government which then redistributes funds back to regional heads for local social security, police and emergency services and education, a system that Catalans claim is weighed against it.

The referendum would pose the question "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent republic?" to all Spanish citizens living in Catalonia.

The move comes after the Spanish Constitutional Court accepted an appeal by the Spanish central government and temporarily suspended the transition law approved in the Catalan regional assembly to pave the way for the independence of the region.

"That's what the spending control means and that will be in place as long as the exceptional situation continues", Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro said following the weekly cabinet meeting.

On Thursday, Catalan regional Vice President Oriol Junqueras said the arrangement implied "political control" and had nothing to do with budget stability, though Montoro on Friday disagreed, saying the measures were within budget stability rules.

The Spanish government refuses to countenance a referendum on self-determination for the region of 7.5 million people, insisting the country is indivisible. She also warned that facilitating the vote could be considered illegal.

But the overture was roundly rebuffed by the spokesman for the Spanish government, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, who said Madrid had not received the letter and only learned about it through the press.

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Jose Manuel Maza said that any of the municipal leaders who agreed to help stage next month's vote should be arrested if they fail to appear.

"We have reached this moment stronger than what many had thought and wanted, as we are proving by responding firmly to each threat", he said.

And they have ordered police to seize ballot boxes, election flyers and any other item that could be used in the referendum and launched an official complaint against Puigdemont and other top Catalan officials over their referendum plans. An open dialogue without conditions.

The letter says a copy is being sent to King Felipe VI.

The letter accused the Spanish state of "an unprecedented repression offensive".

Given the determination on both sides, it is still unclear what exactly will happen on the day of the scheduled vote.

Catalonia is set to cast their vote on separating from the rest of Spain on October, 1 amid ever-increasing tensions between the Catalan region and Madrid.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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