Catalonia independence: All the latest updates

All the latest updates as Catalan parliament declares independence and Spain approves direct rule over the region.

Catalonia’s parliament declared independence from Spain on Friday, October 27 in defiance of the central government in Madrid. 

Here are all the latest updates since the declaration:

  • Juncker calls on Europe to reject separatist ‘poison’. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday called on Europe to stand up against separatism. 

  • Nationalisms are a poison that prevent Europe from working together”, said Juncker in a speech at a university Spanish city of Salamanca. 

  • Spanish Supreme Court frees Carmen Forcadell on bail. A Spanish judge on Thursday freed on bail the Catalan parliament’s speaker and four lawmakers while authorities continue to investigate their roles in Catalonia’s banned independence drive.

  • Top Catalan lawmaker jailed. On Thursday a Spanish judge agreed to jail Carmen Forcadell in the rebellion probe stemming from the regional parliament’s independence vote, setting her bail at 150,000 euros ($175,000) and ordering her passport confiscated.

  • Spain annuls Catalan declaration of independence. On Wednesday, Spain’s Constitutional Court officially annulled the Catalan parliament’s unilateral declaration of independence. 

  • Catalonia protest strike. A general strike called by pro-independence campaigners in Catalonia closed shops and severed transport links on Wednesday.

  • No Belgian ‘crisis’ over deposed Catalan leader. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Wednesday denied his government was in “crisis” over the arrival of Carles Puigdemont. 

  • The deposed leader’s presence is a “matter for the courts, not for the government,” he said. “I will watch to make sure there is no interference in the independence of the courts, the Belgian government will ensure the greatest respect of the rule of law.”

  • Rajoy, the Spanish premier, tweeted: “I agree absolutely with PM Charles Michel who is my sole interlocutor in Belgium: we must respect the rule of law.”

  • ‘EU cannot have political prisoners’. On Tuesday, Carles Puigdemont said that the EU “cannot have an entire government in prison or in exile.”

  • In an interview with Catalan public radio, broadcasted from Brussels, he also stated that the EU “cannot have political prisoners or a  legitimate parliament dissolved via a Spanish government decree”. 

  • Puigdemont condemns Spanish justice. After being released without bail in Brussels, Carles Puigdemont and three members of his ousted government condemned Spain’s legal proceedings. 

  • In freedom and without bail”, Puidgemont said on Twitter, while Meritxell Serret, former agriculture minister, tweeted“In Belgium, they release us without bail, while in Spain we would be in prison. 

Puigdemont turns himself in

Sacked Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont and four associates turned themselves in to Belgian police on Sunday, following Spain’s issuing of an arrest warrant for rebellion and sedition.

Spain issues arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont

A Spanish judge has issued an international arrest warrant for dismissed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

Judge Carmen Lamela issued the order on the grounds that it was public knowledge that Puigdemont is in Belgium.

The warrant added two charges: prevarication (lying) and disobedience.

It also names the four other ex-ministers who accompany Puigdemont in Brussels.

Barcelona politicians demand release of Catalans

Barcelona’s politicians spoke out on Friday against the imprisonment of nine former Catalan ministers as their city braces for continued protests after Spain imposed direct rule.

Barcelona’s city council issued a declaration calling for the immediate release of the Catalan politicians along with Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, two pro-independence organisers jailed since October 16.

The declaration was signed by parties from across the political spectrum.

Judge ‘to not issue European arrest warrant’ for Puigdemont

The Spanish judge in charge of processing charges against Catalan secessionist leaders will not issue a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont until at least Friday, according to a court source.

Newspaper La Vanguardia had said earlier the judge had issued the warrant. “The warrant will most likely be issued on Friday,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

The judge ordered nine Catalan secessionist leaders on Thursday to be held pending a potential trial over the region’s independence push.

Belgium to treat Puigdemont ‘like any other European’: PM

Charles Michel, Belgian prime minister, says that Carles Puigdemont “will be treated like any other European citizen”. His comments came after the removed Catalan president said he planned to stay in Belgium’s capital, Brussels.

“Mr Puigdemont has the same rights and responsibilities as any European citizen – no more, no less,” Michel said in a statement, stressing that his government had not invited the removed Catalan leader, who gave a press conference in Brussels earlier on Tuesday.

Puigdemont ‘not seeking asylum’

Carles Puigdemont has said his party will stand in a December 21 snap poll called by the central government in Madrid for Catalonia. Speaking in Brussels, the deposed Catalan leader said he would respect the outcome of the election, but urged Spanish authorities to do the same.

He arrived at Brussels Press Club for a news conference on Tuesday, amid speculation that he and his ministers would seek political asylum in Belgium, which he said was not their intent.

High Court expected to suspend Catalan independence declaration

The Spanish High Court is expected to suspend the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence today.

The move comes after the Spanish prosecutor charged dismissed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his government with sedition and rebellion, among other offences.

Marta Pascal, coordinator of the Catalan Democratic Party to which Puigdemont belongs, claimed in an interview with TV3 that she isn’t aware whether the former president and his ministers fled to Belgium.

“We have to say emphatically and clearly that we will not abandon anyone, we shall defend these people,” Pascal said.

Puigdemont, who many believe plans to apply for political asylum in Belgium, is expected to give a press conference later today.

Pro-independence party to participate in December poll

Catalan pro-independence party PdeCat says it will take part in a snap regional on December 21, vowing to defeat pro-union political forces.

“Mr Rajoy, we will see you at the ballot boxes,” Marta Pascal, PdeCat party coordinator, told reporters, referring to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has sacked Catalonia’s regional government.

Carles Puigdemont, the removed Catalonia president, did not attend the party meeting. 

Catalan leader ‘in Belgium’

Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s deposed president, has left Spain for Belgium, according to Catalan daily La Vanguardia.

The report came minutes after the Spanish prosecutor filed charges of sedition, rebellion and others against Puigdemont, his government and members of the Catalan parliament.

Belgium’s Migration Minister Theo Francken told a Flemish television station on Sunday that it would be “not unrealistic” for Belgium to offer Puigdemont political asylum if he asked for it.

Belgium is one of the few European Union countries where EU citizens can request political asylum.

“The question is to what extent he would get a fair trial,” added Francken.

Spain prosecutor files charges against Catalan leaders

Spanish Attorney General Jose Manuel Maza has confirmed he will file criminal complaints against the dismissed Catalan government.

Maza said the charges would include sedition and rebellion, both felony offences with penalties of between one and 30 years in prison.

Read more here.

Spain’s control over Catalonia to be tested

Madrid’s control over Catalonia will be tested on Monday when politicians and civil servants return to work.

The main civic group behind the pro-secession campaign have called for widespread civil disobedience.

Several Spanish ministers said at the weekend they were convinced civil servants would obey orders and reiterated that those who did not could lose their job.

Catalans face criminal charges

The Spanish Attorney General is expected to deliver a complaint charging the dismissed Catalan government with “rebellion,” a serious crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Carles Puigdemont, the dismissed president of the Catalan government, may receive more charges,
including that of sedition.

Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez of the National Catalan Assembly and Omnium Cultura, two pro-independence groups, are currently being held without bail on the same charges.

Cuixart and Sanchez have become rallying cries for pro-independence Catalan demonstrators.

‘Puigdemont can ask for political asylum in Belgium’

Theo Francken, the Belgian minister of asylum and migration, has said that Belgium might offer political asylum to Catalans.

“Catalans that fear they might be prosecuted in Spain can ask for political asylum in Belgium. And that includes Prime Minister [Carles] Puigdemont,” Francken said in an interview with Belgian public broadcaster VRT,  

Francken referenced Spain’s constitution, which says anyone who calls for independence of a Spanish region can be prosecuted. He also said that although nobody from Catalonia has so far applied for political asylum, it has happened before, with Basque people seeking refuge in Belgium.  

Belgium is one of the few countries in Europe where Europeans can apply for political asylum. 

‘We are Spanish!’

The pro-unity demonstration in Barcelona is wrapping up.

The Spanish government placed attendance at one million people, while the Catalan government put the figure at 300,000.

Chants of “We are Spanish!” filled the air as demonstrators rallied through the city draped in Spanish flags, and vehicles honked as they marched.

‘Diverse protests’

The crowd is noticeably larger than previous unity rallies. Demonstrators are diverse, coming from all age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Demonstrators chanted: “how beautiful is Spain?” and: “We are Spanish!” as they marched.

Maria Garcia, a 64-year-old resident of Barcelona attending the rally with her husband, said the Catalan declaration of independence robbed her of her rights.

“I want to be Spanish, and I want to live in Barcelona. Who is [the Catalan government] to take those rights from me?” Garcia asked.

Garcia said she didn’t vote in the disputed October 1 referendum on Catalan independence: “It was illegal.”

Demonstrators are diverse, coming from all age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds. [Creede Newton/Al Jazeera]
Demonstrators are diverse, coming from all age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds. [Creede Newton/Al Jazeera]

“We are all Catalonia”

Thousands have turned out for a pro-unity rally in downtown Barcelona.

The rally was partly organised by Societat Civil Catalan, a pro-until group that some Catalan say is controlled by far-right groups. [Creede Newton/Al Jazeera]
The rally was partly organised by Societat Civil Catalan, a pro-until group that some Catalan say is controlled by far-right groups. [Creede Newton/Al Jazeera]

The rally has been named “Todos Somos Cataluña,” Spanish for “We are all Catalonia”.

Marchers are moving from the Passage of Gracia, one of Barcelona's main streets, to the Plaça de Catalunya, the city's central transportation vein. [Creede Newton/Al Jazeera]
Marchers are moving from the Passage of Gracia, one of Barcelona’s main streets, to the Plaça de Catalunya, the city’s central transportation vein. [Creede Newton/Al Jazeera]

Protests against secession underway

A demonstration against Catalonia’s attempts to secede from Spain has started in Barcelona, drawing tens of thousands of people.

Waving the “Senyera” Catalan flag, demonstrators cheered unionist politicians and a police helicopter flying overhead.

The protesters also called for the Catalan regional president, Carles Puigdemont, to be imprisoned, according to the Associated Press.

Oriol Junqueras: Article 155 is ‘coup d’etat’

Deposed Catalan Vice-President Oriol Junqueras said in an opinion piece published on Sunday that the Catalan government will have to “make decisions that will not be easy to understand”.

The deposed vice-president and leader of the Catalan Republican Left party called the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution a “coup d’etat against Catalonia”.

Junqueras kept the door open to participating in elections on December 21, which were called by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Creating new political alliances will be key, Junqueras commented, offering an olive branch to the regional branch of the left-wing Podemos party.

Recognising there will be tough days ahead, Junqueras said the “Catalan Republic was born, not with the strength that we wanted, but with the legitimacy of the vote”.

Pro-unity protesters set to gather in Barcelona

Pro-unity protesters are set to gather in Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, two days after local politicians voted to split the wealthy region from Spain, plunging the country into an unprecedented political crisis. 

The demonstrators are to meet at Plaza Artos at 09:30 GMT.  

Security for Catalan ministers being scaled down

Carles Puigdemont and several other former members of the Catalan government have had their security scaled down. Some Catalan ministers will have their security details completely removed, while Puigdemont, former leader of the government, will have a smaller number of security guards now responsible for his safety. 

The security is provided by the MOSSOS, the regional police force of Catalonia.

Spanish governments wants Puigdemont in new elections

The Spanish government has called on the sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont to participate in the next Catalan elections.

Government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said: “I’m quite sure that if Puigdemont takes part in these elections, he can exercise this democratic opposition.”

After yesterday’s declaration of independence by the Catalan government, Puigdemont and his regional government were sacked by the Spanish government. Madrid announced it would hold elections for a new Catalan government before the end of the year.

France’s Occitanie region calls for dialogue

Carole Delga, president of the Occitanie region in France that borders Catalonia, has called for dialogue between the Catalans and the Spanish government.

Faced with this deadlock situation, I want to stress the need to find a way to open talks as soon as possible, notably to safeguard the civil peace,”, Delga said according to Reuters.