Catalan leaders send letter to Spanish president and king urging dialogue on referendum
“Spain has gone on the offensive with unprecedented repression”, the statement criticizes
The election campaign for the October 1 referendum has already started. Yes campaigners have more than 1,000 events planned throughout Catalonia; unionist parties and organizations do not recognize the vote. The clash of wills between the Catalan and Spanish administrations is in full force. Yet the top Catalan officials think that a dialogue on the referendum is still possible. That is what they said in a joint letter sent to the Spanish president and the Spanish king.
In the letter, the Catalan president and vice president, the Catalan parliament president and the mayor of Barcelona made "a call for dialogue in order to tackle how we can find an agreement so that Catalans can hold the referendum. An open dialogue, without conditions".
The letter asks for a “political dialogue to be opened, based on the legitimacy that each of us represents, to make something possible that in a democracy is never a problem, and much less a crime: listening to the voice of the people”.
Additionally, the Catalan dignitaries said that “Spain has gone on the offensive with unprecedented repression”. The Spanish attorney general has opened an investigation against 75% of Catalonia's mayors for collaborating with the vote. The Catalan high court, part of the Spanish judiciary system, also warned Catalan media that publishing the government's ad about the referendum is illegal.
Barcelona mayor supports referendum
The mayor of Barcelona had been hesitant about supporting the referendum and facilitating sites to be used as polling stations in the Catalan capital, in which some 20% of Catalan voters are concentrated. Yet on Thursday she announced that her local government had reached an agreement with the Catalan executive over the sites to be used for the vote. On Friday her party confirmed that it would call citizens to take part on October 1 after an internal vote. However, it does not consider the referendum binding.
"No court in Spain can suppress internationally recognized rights"
Oriol Junqueras · Catalan vice president
Catalan vice president says that the Government "has always been open to dialogue"
Following the publication of the letter, the Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras, said that the government has "always been open to dialogue". He said that Catalan political parties have asked up to "18 times" for an agreement with Spain to hold a vote on independence, something that has always been rejected by Madrid.
Junqueras said that while the Spanish Congress was willing, at the peak of the financial crisis, to change the Constitution to introduce a cap on the budget deficit and debt, MPs have never even considered the possibility of a reform to allow Catalans to vote on independence.
Amid the pressure from the Spanish police and judiciary to stop the vote from happening —with officers confiscating referendum material in several towns— the Catalan vice president said that "no court in Spain can suppress internationally recognized rights" such as that of self-determination. "Every international organization that legislates on international law recognizes the right to self-determination and links it to human rights," he added.
9,000-strong event kicks off the Yes campaign
While Spain continues its fight against the referendum –its attorney general said on Friday that “thousands of Catalans have been brainwashed (literally 'abducted')” by its government in order to make them think that the vote is legal–, the election campaign has already started. The pro-independence parties and organizations held a joint event on Thursday evening in Tarragona. More than 9,000 people attended with chants such as “independence” and “I’m not afraid”.
On Thursday, Spain’s Attorney General opened an investigation into the event. The public prosecutor started gathering information, but nobody has been officially accused or summoned yet. The company responsible for the arena where the event took place has not been informed of the investigation either.