The Latest: Barcelona mayor says all sides must de-escalate

AP News
Posted: Oct 09, 2017 1:43 PM
The Latest: Barcelona mayor says all sides must de-escalate

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The Latest on Spain's political crisis amid Catalonia's independence push (all times local):

7:40 p.m.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau says the results of a disputed independence referendum earlier this month can't be used to declare secession and is calling on all sides to de-escalate tensions to solve "the most severe institutional crisis since the re-establishment of democracy in Spain."

Colau is asking Catalan President Carles Puigdemont to drop any attempt to declare independence during his highly anticipated appearance before the regional parliament on Tuesday, more than a week after he declared victory in a referendum that had been fiercely opposed by Madrid.

But the mayor of Barcelona says the "main culprit" for the crisis is the central government, and urges Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to avoid escalating the crisis further by resorting to a constitutional clause that would allow central authorities to take over some or all regional control.

"Don't take any decision that would dynamite the space for dialogue and mediation," Colau said on Monday in a public address aimed at Rajoy and Puigdemont. "That's the bravest thing that you can do at this moment."


7:35 p.m.

Highway management company Abertis is announcing a relocation of its corporate address from Barcelona to Madrid, the latest such move amid the political uncertainty in Catalonia.

In an emailed statement, Abertis says that the measure will be in place while the lack of legal security remains in the northeastern region.

Messaging firm MRW, health insurance company SegurCaixa Adeslas and real estate giant Colonial also joined the exodus of businesses moving addresses in the past week.

Abertis and Colonial are part of Spain's main index of the top 35 listed companies along with the big Catalan banks Banco Sabadell and CaixaBank and energy firm Gas Natural, which already announced the move last week.

The only Ibex 35 companies now with a base in Catalonia are the telecommunications firm Cellnex and the pharmaceutical multinational Grifols. Cellnex is holding a board meeting on Monday to discuss the move and Grifols has ruled it out for now, but said in a statement that it would consider it if a declaration of independence is made.


6:10 p.m.

A group of Nobel Peace Prize winners are calling for mediation in the political deadlock between Spain and Catalonia.

The comments come in a letter on the eve of a Catalan parliamentary meeting in which separatist leaders want to press ahead with secession for the northeastern region.

Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams told The Associated Press the letter has so far been signed by seven more awardees, including Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchu and Shirin Ebadi.

The letter says "no side is free of errors" in this process but calls for "mediation and negotiations toward a peaceful resolution of the current standoff."

Williams said the letter would be posted later Monday on the Nobel Women's Initiative website.


4:10 p.m.

A lawmaker with the Catalan CUP party says the far-left separatists won't accept anything on Tuesday that falls short of a declaration of secession, after a referendum marred by violence.

"It's very clear to me that those I represent won't accept any other scenario that is not a declaration of independence and the proclamation of the Catalan Republic," Benet Salellas told The Associated Press during an interview at the regional parliament.

Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont plans to address the Catalan parliament on Tuesday evening in a session that some have portrayed as the staging of an independence declaration for the northeastern region of 7.5 million, although others have said the move would only be symbolic.

Salellas says that Tuesday's parliamentary session in Barcelona will be an "act of sovereignty" in which "a political subject called Catalonia decides to self-determine and declare itself a republic."

He also says that moves by banks and multinationals during the past week to relocate their base outside of Catalonia because of the political uncertainty are "absolutely shameful" and a "blackmail to the decision of the Catalan people."


3:25 p.m.

The head of Spain's main opposition party is calling for Catalan leaders to drop an attempt to declare independence and is warning that the Socialists will back the government's response if separatists go ahead with their plan.

Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez says that "a unilateral declaration of independence doesn't have a place in a state ruled by law."

Sanchez told reporters in Barcelona that "the same way that we are offering our hand for a dialogue, we will also support the state's response if coexistence among Spaniards is broken unilaterally."

Taking control of the governance of Catalonia is one of the tools that conservative Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the central government would contemplate to deal with the political crisis.


2:25 p.m.

The French European Affairs minister says France won't recognize Catalonia if it unilaterally declares independence from Spain.

Speaking on the French channel CNews, Nathalie Loiseau said that "if there were to be a declaration of independence, it would be unilateral, it wouldn't be recognized."

Regional president Carles Puigdemont plans to address Catalonia's parliament Tuesday evening to debate the current political situation. Separatist politicians say there will be a declaration of independence for the northeastern region of 7.5 million during that session, although some ruling coalition lawmakers say the move could be simply "symbolic."

Loiseau added that a declaration of independence would immediately result in Catalonia's departure from the 28-nation European Union.


12:50 p.m.

Catalonia's top judicial official has ordered additional Spanish police protection for the headquarters of the regional judiciary before the regional government's possible declaration of independence from Spain on Tuesday.

The regional Mossos d'Esquadra police force, whose hierarchy reports to the Catalan government, had been in charge until now of guarding the palace in central Barcelona that hosts the judiciary.

But the High Judiciary in Catalonia says its president, Jesus Barrientos, has asked the chief of the National Police force in the region to join in the protection of the building. The statement says a declaration of independence, even if illegal under Spanish laws, could trigger the suspension of the judiciary and ouster of its president.

Separatist leaders in Catalonia have declared valid a pro-independence victory in a disputed Oct. 1 referendum that Spain calls illegal.


12:10 p.m.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed in an interview with a German newspaper that Spain won't be divided.

Rajoy told Die Welt in its Monday edition that "Spain will not be divided and the national unity will be preserved. We will do everything that legislation allows us to ensure this."

Rajoy added "we will prevent this independence from taking place."

The prime minister's interview comes a week after separatist leaders of the Catalan government held a referendum on secession that Spain's top court had suspended and the Spanish government said was illegal.

Secession-minded lawmakers are meeting Tuesday in Catalonia and some say that is when they will declare independence for the northeastern region in Spain.


11:50 p.m.

Spain's deputy prime minister says the Spanish government will be ready to act if Catalan separatist leaders go ahead and declare independence on Tuesday as they have promised.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told the COPE radio station Monday that "if they declare independence, there will be decisions to restore the law and democracy."

Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont is to address the Catalan parliament on Tuesday evening to debate the political situation. Separatist politicians have said there will be a declaration of independence during that session, although some ruling coalition lawmakers say the move would be "symbolic."

Saenz de Santamaria also called for members of the Catalan government "who still respect democracy and freedom to refrain from jumping into the void."