Police violence in Catalonian referendum condemned by locals and expats alike

Published:  3 Oct at 6 PM
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Expats living in Catalonia are as shocked and unhappy as are locals over the violent police reaction to the independence referendum.

Last weekend’s turbulent events during the referendum for Catalonia’s independence weren’t exactly unexpected, but the shock caused by police violence is reverberating across both expat and local communities. For decades, Catalonians and their politicians have been demanding independence form the rest of Spain, with the referendum seen as a chance to express their feelings in an unmissable manner.

One expat, unable to vote as she’s not a Spanish citizen, wandered around her home city of Vilanova I la Geltru on the morning of the vote, noting that everything seemed peaceful and normal. When she came to the town square, a small group of residents were singing songs of the resistance and two police officers were standing in another corner of the square, totally ignoring the singing. The town has a history of pro-independence support, with its mayor now charged by the Spanish government for promoting the referendum.

Catalans as well as expats aren’t surprised at the police reaction to the queues of locals lining up to vote all over the province, but the general feeling is of shock related to the unnecessary police violence against peaceful citizens including the elderly and those simply queuing to vote. One would-be voter told reporters the experience was a necessary step in the fight for Catalan independence, adding the violence was exactly what the state does best – repress all those who don’t go along with them.

Another local man said he’d not been bothered about voting until he saw the high number of police imported into Barcelona prior to Referendum day in order to control the voters. It’s exactly that kind of behaviour, he said, which turned more and more Catalans towards supporting independence over the past few years. In the end, Catalans made their point, as 90 per cent of the votes counted were in favour of independence, leaving the issue in the hands of a Spanish state unsympathetic to the popular view in the region.
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