Spain's central government insists the referendum is illegal and the Constitutional Court has suspended it pending a formal decision by judges
A man waves an Estelada or Independence flag during an event promoting the start of the campaigning for the ballot in Tarragona, about 100 kilometres south of Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. Tension is mounting between Catalan and Spain's national leaders as Catalonia's president is set to open the "yes" campaign for a planned referendum on seceding from Spain Thursday. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti), photo: AP/Emilio Morenatti
14 of September 2017 15:29:01
TARRAGONA – Political tension in Spain mounted Thursday as Catalonia's president opened the "yes" campaign for a regional independence referendum that has been suspended by the courts.Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and other supporters of secession gathered at an arena in Tarragona, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Barcelona, to address thousands of people at the official campaign kickoff."Hello Republic" was one of the slogans unveiled at the rally. There is no official "no" campaign for the Oct. 1 referendum, as most of the regional and national opposition are refusing to participate in the vote.Spain's central government insists the referendum is illegal and the Constitutional Court has suspended it pending a formal decision by judges.Police have orders to prevent preparations for the ballot, and Spain's top prosecutor has said that anybody collaborating in its organization would also be legally liable.The threats have so far had a limited effect beyond making regional authorities take lengths to try to sidestep the legal obstacles.