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Did Catalonia Declare Independence From Spain?

Did Catalonia Declare Independence From Spain?

As Catalonia's fight for independence from Spain rages on, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has asked Catalonia to clarify whether or not the region has declared independence.

Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain that includes Barcelona, its capital, and the Pyrenees Mountains along the border with France. It has been autonomous for almost 1,000 years and even has its own language, anthem, flag, and parliament.

On Tuesday, Catalan leaders signed a declaration of independence after approving an independence referendum on October 1, despite a suspension by Spain's Constitutional Court and an attempt by the Spanish government to stop the vote. The crisis caused civil disobedience in the streets, with civilians trying to get to the voting booths clashing with police. However, when all was said and done, 90% of the vote was in favor of independence. However, only 43% of Catalan citizens showed up to vote, with many anti-independence voters sitting out in protest.

What has Prime Minister Rajoy confused is where Catalan independence currently stands, as the Catalan government seemingly declared independence, but then immediately suspended its implementation in order to first facilitate talks with Madrid.

In a news conference Wednesday morning, Rajoy told Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and other Catalonia leaders that they needed to give an answer within five days, otherwise Spain could impose direct rule over the region. Rajoy implored: "There is an urgent need to put an end to the situation that Catalonia is going through - to return it to safety, tranquillity and calm and to do that as quickly as possible." The ability for direct rule comes from Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which has never been used before.

Unlike other recent struggles for independence, the debate is not expected to turn into an armed conflict, but there are fears that it could destabilize Spain and Catalonia economically, and potentially all of Europe.

Despite the risks, Puigdemont has urged the international community to view and recognize Catalonia as an "independent and sovereign state."

But Twitter fears that the debacle has Puigdemont in a spot that may be hard to get out of:

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H/T: NPR, BBC, Twitter