More than 700 mayors from Catalonia met Saturday in Barcelona in a show of strength amid pressure from Spain’s central government not to hold an independence referendum for the northeastern region. Political tensions in Spain are increasing as the proposed voting date of Oct. 1 nears. 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. Hundreds of mayors stood Saturday next to regional President Carles Puigdemont and Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau in Barcelona, the capital and main city in the region. “We will not be intimidated. This is not about independence, it’s about our rights,” said Colau.
Spanish police on Saturday seized printing materials intended to support and promote the referendum near Barcelona. The operation followed a raid Friday where up to 100,000 posters were seized. Barcelona’s municipal police also confiscated flyers and posters Saturday, according to PDECat, a party in favor of the independence movement.
Puigdemont thanked the mayors for not backing down and insisted that most Catalans are determined to press ahead despite the ban.
“Do not underestimate the Catalan people,” he warned.