By: Sara Adams
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Europe

Protesters march against the Spanish government’s decision in Barcelona, including the Catalan President in the center. Image courtesy of Ivan Alvarado. 

BARCELONA, Spain – Several weeks after the controversial referendum for Catalan independence, the Spanish government has announced it will place direct federal government rule over the region.

This means that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will invoke Article 155 of the Constitution. Article 155 effectively deprives Catalonia of its autonomous status within the country.

Recently, the Spanish government asked the Catalonian government whether it was declaring independence or not. This move on October 20th comes after Catalonia failed to respond to Mr. Rajoy’s calls for talks between the two governments.

Carles Puigdemont, the leader of the Catalan government, was given until 10 o’clock a.m. on Thursday, October 19th to openly declare independence or not.

Subsequently, Mr. Puigdemont, through a spokesperson, told ABC News that he was ready to “show internationally how pacifist and open to dialogue Catalonia is.” The spokesperson added, “Spain refused to meet him in person despite the ongoing conflict.”

With the imposition of Article 155, the Spanish government now has the Constitutional authority to take administrative control of Catalonia.

This means a new election will be held, possibly in January, to bring in new regional leaders.

The Spanish government has told citizens to ignore local governmental directives, including law enforcement, until the new elections.

Several thousand protestors marched in the streets of Barcelona on October 21st in response to the decision.

Some Catalan parliament leaders are calling Mr. Rajoy’s move a “de facto coup d’etat.”

One of the leaders, Carme Forcedell, called Rajoy’s move an “enormous political irresponsibility” that “trespassed all limits.”

But the Spanish Foreign Minister, Anfonso Dastis, has asserted that this does not amount to a “coup.”

“If anyone has attempted a coup, it is the Catalan regional government,” Mr. Dastis said.

This is the first time Article 155 has been brought up since before Spain became a democracy. It has led some to fear for the future of freedom in the country, which was ruled by a military dictatorship between 1939-1975.

The last time Catalonia did not have autonomy was under the dictator’s rule between those years.

This has led to many fears over the future of Spanish democracy and control over Catalonia.

As tensions continue to rise, Catalonia will be under the authority of the government from Madrid until further notice.

Mr. Rajoy hopes to have elections within the next six months.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Spain Catalonia: Foreign minister denies ‘coup’ by Madrid – 22 October 2017

CNN – Catalonia’s leaders slam Spanish government plans for direct rule – 22 October 2017

The Guardian – Spain calls on Catalans to respect its decision to impose direct rule – 22 October 2017

The New York Times – Spain Will Remove Catalonia Leader, Escalating Secession Crisis – 21 October 2017

CNBC – Spanish government aims for January regional elections in Catalonia – 20 October 2017

ABC News – Spain prepares to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy amid independence disagreement – 19 October 2017

Author: Impunity Watch Archive