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