A young man uses a megaphone as other youths wrapped in Spanish flags listen to him during a demonstration calling for unity in Barcelona, October 28, 2017. AFP/Pierre-Philippe Marcou
MADRID: As Catalonia’s independence crisis deepens, here are the key events that have rocked the region since this month’s referendum on splitting from Spain.
October 1: Violence-hit referendum
Hundreds of thousands of Catalans vote in an independence referendum that goes ahead despite a court ban deeming it unconstitutional.
Spanish riot police try to block the vote. Shocking footage emerges of them using batons and rubber bullets on crowds and roughing up voters.
The Catalan government says 90 percent of those who voted backed independence, but turnout was only 43 percent as many who oppose a split boycotted the referendum.
October 3: General strike
A strike called by unions and political groups disrupts Barcelona’s port, transport and some businesses. Up to 700,000 people demonstrate in the city against police violence.
King Felipe VI accuses Catalan leaders of threatening Spain’s stability and urges the state to defend “constitutional order”.
October 5: Business exodus
Banco Sabadell, Catalonia’s second largest bank, announces it will shift its registered domicile out of the region. More than 1,600 companies follow suit.
October 7-8: Mass protests
Tens of thousands of people demonstrate across Spain on October 7, some demanding unity, others demanding dialogue. The next day hundreds of thousands march in Barcelona to back unity with Spain.
October 10: ‘Suspended’ independence declaration
In a move that sparks widespread confusion, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his separatist allies sign a declaration of independence but say they are suspending its implementation to allow for time for negotiations with Madrid.
The next day, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gives Puigdemont until October 16 to clarify his stance.
October 16: Separatists detained
Puigdemont refuses to say whether he had declared independence and instead calls for dialogue. Madrid gives him an extended deadline of October 19 to say whether he is planning to secede.
A court orders the leaders of two powerful grassroots independence groups, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, to be detained pending an investigation into sedition charges.
October 21: Spain to sack Catalan government
Rajoy takes drastic steps to stop Catalonia breaking away, employing previously unused constitutional powers under Article 155 to seek the dismissal of Puigdemont’s government and new elections for the Catalan parliament.
Puigdemont accuses Rajoy of “the worst attack on institutions and Catalan people” since Spain’s dictatorship and later turns down an invitation to address the Senate to state his case for independence.
October 26: No regional elections
Puigdemont says he considered calling elections to stave off the central government’s takeover bid but received “no guarantees” to make this possible.
October 27: Takeover vs independence
Catalan lawmakers approve a motion by 70 votes to 10 to declare independence, a narrow majority in the 135-member assembly, as many opposition members walk out. Tens of thousands of independence supporters gathered outside cheer as the outcome is announced.
The Senate swiftly votes to grant Madrid powers to impose direct rule on Catalonia.
Rajoy, using those powers, announces he has dissolved the Catalan parliament and formally removed Puigdemont and his executive from office. He calls regional elections for December 21