Hundreds of mayors from the Spanish region of Catalonia marched through the streets of Barcelona in an act of defiance to the central government's crackdown on the upcoming separatist referendum.
Catalonia's regional government insists a vote will take place on October 1 but the Spanish government has vowed to block it, describing it as "unconstitutional".
The Catalan government has been scrambling to push forward the vote, despite the central government's warnings that local municipalities are not allowed to use public buildings for it and mayors can be legally prosecuted for it. Organizing the referendum will be almost impossible without the cooperation of local municipalities.
"Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who supports the right to hold the referendum, also turned up".
"We will not be intimidated".
Catalonia is sharply divided, with a government poll in July finding that 41.1 percent of people were for and 49.4 percent against independence, although the vast majority agree to holding a referendum to decide the matter.
According to July poll, only 41 percent of Catalans favor independence but almost 70 want a vote. It is unclear what arrangement was reached.
Waving the red, blue and yellow Estelada flag used by those who want independence in Catalonia, and red, white and green Basque regional flags, protesters marched under threatening skies.
Spanish police on Saturday seized printing materials meant to support and promote the referendum near Barcelona. He added that if Catalonia gains independence, it will not be able to become an EU member state immediately after the referendum and will have to follow the same accession process to be admitted to the European Union as those countries that had been entering the bloc since 2004. Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro said on Friday that the central government would take over the funding of most essential public services in the region unless Puigdemont guaranteed public cash was not being used to fund the referendum.
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