Spanish police raids seen as attempt to thwart Catalan referendum

By Sara Shayanian   |   Updated Sept. 20, 2017 at 9:52 AM
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Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Spain's Guardia Civil raided the offices of three government ministries on Wednesday and arrested 13 people over the upcoming Catalonia referendum.

The Guardia Civil police force arrested Catalan Vice Presidency and Economy secretary general Josep Maria Jové, as well as 11 top Catalan officials and one other individual.

As multiple raids began across printing firms, news organizations and warehouses, hundreds of citizens gathered around the government buildings to protest the operation. The Guardia Civil confiscated 1.5 million posters and leaflets relating to the referendum and 45,000 polling supervisor notices.

The ruling People's Party in Spain believes they have quashed any preparations for the upcoming Oct. 1 vote.

People's Party spokesperson Rafael Hernando told Catalan News that "everyone has to comply with the rule of law. I wish people would not decide to break the law because the rule of law is stronger than those who want to put themselves outside the law."

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said that the state is interfering with Catalonia's autonomy.

The referendum vote would decide if Catalonia, a semi-autonomous state, would secede from the country, a decision that Madrid has declared would never be made.

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