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Spanish town considered cradle of Catalan secession push

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(27 Sep 2017) As tension mounts ahead of the controversial Catalan independence referendum on 1 October, a village east of Barcelona is at the forefront of the secessionist push.Arenys de Munt became the first to hold a symbolic vote for the region of Catalonia to secede from Spain in 2009 and built a monument to commemorate the event.But during the night of 24 September this year, the monument was sabotaged by unionists.Yet, separatist banners and Catalonian separatist flags fly from balconies throughout the town.The present day independence movement took a decisive turn in June 2010 when the Spanish High Court of Justice, under pressure from the Partido Popular (PP), challenged the 2006 Statute of Autonomy which had been agreed between the Spanish central government and the regional Catalan authorities and then approved in a regional referendum.The court's decision ruled out two key demands: a better fiscal deal, and describing Catalonia as a nation.The snub was keenly felt in the region.A few months earlier, in September 2009, Arenys de Munt held a referendum so villagers could decide on the fate of a stream of water that ran through the village and now runs underground.The organisers of the consultation - lifelong separatists - seized the opportunity to celebrate a parallel referendum of independence of Catalonia from the rest of Spain.With a participation of 40 percent of the population, the "yes" vote won by a landslide.During the next two years, 550 Catalan municipalities held symbolic referendums, all of them with a robust "yes" vote victory.According to the latest polls, an estimated 80 percent of the inhabitants of Arenys de Munt want to split from Spain.Spanish authorities say the 1 October ballot on whether the Catalan region should secede from Spain is illegal. It is cracking down on organisers by threatening them with prosecution.Catalonia is counting on its regional police force to help carry out a referendum on independence on Sunday. The referendum on whether Catalonia should secede from Spain is putting intense pressure on the region's police officers, who feel caught between their oath to the nation's constitution and loyalty to local leaders who have vowed to create a new European state.The power struggle is the most serious constitutional crisis Spain has faced in nearly four decades.Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has pledged to declare independence within 48 hours should secessionists manage to stage the secession referendum and win it. The move would push the country into uncharted waters and set off a national political emergency.You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/you... Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork

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AP Archive 4118152 a2fc184d36b2463dc6d282dc54fb880b Spain Catalonia Mariano Rajoy Barcelona Spain Western Europe Government and politics Business
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