Catalonia, in northeastern Spain, is set to vote on independence in a referendum on Sunday.
The planned ballot has provoked a strong government response in the region, home to 7.5 million people, resulting in weeks of turmoil leading up to the vote.
Sunday’s poll will be the region’s second referendum on independence in three years.
Al Jazeera spoke to Catalans about how they planned to vote, and why.
Here is what they had to say:
Judith Lopez Gil, 23, publishing
“I’m going to vote ‘Yes’.
I consider myself Catalan, not Spanish. I don’t hate Spain, but I don’t feel connected with it.
My roots are in Catalonia, my language and my culture aren’t Spanish.
My culture was banned by the dictatorship years ago, but I don’t know how much relations [between Catalonia and Spain] have changed since then.
All my life I have felt judged for being Catalan, and these days a lot of people are showing how much they hate us.
They don’t want us, but don’t want to let us go. It’s frustrating.”
Andrea Sunyol, 29, PhD student
“On Sunday, I will vote ‘Yes’.
Yes to the possibility to think radically about what country it is that we want to live in, as the philosopher Marina Garces said a few days ago.
Yes to regaining sovereignty.
I see this moment as a thrilling opportunity to build a republic based on more democratic values.
We have a chance to reformulate outdated versions of the nation-state into something more horizontal, transparent and sustainable, in accordance with the conditions of our time.
I will say yes to a more egalitarian, free and just society. Yes to start building the country we have imagined.”
Alvaro Victor Gomez Velasco, 41, automotive engineer
“No, I will not vote.
[The referendum] is illegal. In a democracy, all of the people have to respect the majority.
There are about two million [pro-independence supporters] but the total number of voters is five million. They cannot drag the population down a path with no way out.
They [reflect] a populist reaction to the global economic crisis, a reactionary political movement like the National Front, UKIP or Donald Trump.
And their message is exactly the same: our money is for us, others are responsible for our crisis and all the opportunities will return when we are independent.”
Albert Llussa i Torra, 46, solicitor
“I will vote ‘Yes’.
I am Catalan. My parents are Catalan. We speak the Catalan language. We have our own history, culture and traditions. We have our sense of humour, our sense of enterprise and business, and our sense of community.
Throughout history, at different times, Catalan language and culture has been persecuted. And yet, all attempts by Spain to get rid of the ‘Catalan problem’ failed, and Catalonia, like the phoenix, always rose up again from the ashes.
The Catalan cause is the same cause as that of the Kurdish people the Tamils, and so many other minority peoples who feel oppressed by boundaries that were imposed upon them by those more powerful.
I believe that the Catalan people exist. I believe that being Catalan is a way of being, is part of a person’s identity, as much as being English, German or Irish is.
Being Catalan and being recognised as Catalan is intrinsic to my sense of self and identity and of many, though not all, of my Catalan compatriots. I believe that I have the right, as a human being, to exist in the world and be recognised in accordance with my national identity, which is part of my personal identity.
I believe that the cause of Catalonia is the cause of a better, fairer world. It is the cause of freedom, justice and human rights.
It is the same cause as that of the Kurdish people the Tamils, and so many other minority peoples who feel oppressed by boundaries that were imposed upon them by those more powerful.
The cause of an independent Catalonia is the cause of Europe, of the European Union, and of Spain itself, for the current 1978 constitutional Spanish regime is founded on the tacit pacts, enforced silences, and shameful amnesia of 40 years of Francoist dictatorship, the blood that it shed, the dead that lay buried in shallow graves, and the persecution and suppression of fundamental human rights.”
Manuel, 28, bank employee
“I won’t vote because there is no point in doing so.
The referendum isn’t legally backed. The Constitution allows the possibility of having such a vote but the regional government hasn’t properly followed the constitutional article.
The central government has done everything in its power to suppress the referendum.
The results that are going to be acclaimed next Sunday will not be accurate, because people will not have the opportunity to express their vote correctly.
It’s a huge farce. The central and regional [Catalan] government are acting stupidly, both are delusional and don’t accept each other’s position.
Catalonia wants to vote, it’s a fact. Sending the police won’t solve the problem.
You have to follow the law, it’s a fact. Unilaterally calling the referendum won’t guarantee you anything.”
Carlos Remacha Lopez, 27, city councillor and jurist
“I will not vote.
The referendum is illegal and without guarantees. It has not been organised according to the Catalonian law, nor the Spanish, and no international authorities recognise it.
I can’t accept action that does not respect the law, or my rights, and [action] being done due to a political minority force in Catalonia.
For these reasons, I can’t contribute with my vote.
They have to stop the illegal referendum and come back to the legal way, this is the truth.
I could vote in a referendum, but only a referendum organised by following the law, in which case I would vote ‘No’ to leaving Spain.”
Marta Copovi Farres, 31, air cabin crew
“I will definitely vote ‘Yes’.
I feel Catalan, I don’t feel Spanish. I love Catalonia.
I don’t love Spain, but I don’t hate it either. It’s just a neutral feeling, the same feeling I could have for France or China. It’s just indifferent to me.
Catalonia will do much better if it gets separated from Spain, as Catalonia is the region of Spain that pays more taxes, but receives less help.
I have been pro-independence since a young age. I have lived abroad for over eight years.
A year in Paris, two years in Bahrain, almost four years in Abu Dhabi and two years in London. And last year, I finally came back home.
I have seen many different cultures and ways of doing things. I consider myself open-minded.
I want to vote, and I am going to vote ‘Yes’.
But I also want the people that don’t want independence to vote ‘No’.
I want everybody to be able to vote and express their feelings, hopes and emotions.”