In his first interview since Sunday’s referendum Carles Puigdemont, the president of the Generalitat of Catalonia, has told the BBC that Catalonia intends to declare independence from Spain within a matter of days.
He confirmed that his cabinet “will act at the end of this week or the beginning of the next.”
Puigdemont made his statement to the British broadcaster shortly before the King’s message to the nation on Tuesday evening in which King Felipe V1 accused the Generalitat of violating “the legally and legitimately approved rules, and being completely disloyal to the powers of the State.” He said that the organisers of the vote had put themselves “outside the law” and that the situation in Spain was “extremely serious”, calling for unity. But he stressed that Spain “will overcome these difficult times”.
Puigdemont also expressed his disappointment with the European Union, and their failure to denounce the mindless acts of violence carried out by both the National Police and the Civil Guard on Sunday.
When asked what he would do if the Spanish government were to intervene, declare Article 155 and take control of Catalonia’s government, Mr Puigdemont said it would be “an error which would change everything”.
On Tuesday there were huge protest rallies across Catalonia. In Barcelona alone, 700,000 people took to the streets, city police were quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
With more than 50 roadblocks in the city causing big traffic jams, Barcelona’s metro traffic was also cut to a 25% service during rush hour while there were no trains at all at other times.
Barcelona’s port was at a standstill, trade union sources said, and top tourist attractions were closed.
The strike was called in protest at “the grave violation of rights and freedoms” seen during the ballot.
Mr Puigdemont said there was currently no contact between the government in Madrid and his devolved administration.
Meanwhile FC Barcelona could leave La Liga if Catalonia gains independence. The club and the members would have to decide in which league we would play,” Bartomeu told reporters after a board meeting.
“In the case of independence, Catalan teams in La Liga Barcelona, Espanyol and Girona will have to decide where they want to play: in the Spanish league or a neighbouring country like Italy, France or the (English) Premier League,” he said.