Speed Reads

let my people go

Catalonia wants international help to negotiate its independence

The autonomous four-province region of Catalonia voted overwhelmingly for independence from Spain on Sunday in a referendum that went forward despite heavy opposition, including online censorship and aggressive policing tactics that left 900 Catalans injured, from the central Spanish government in Madrid. Catalonia's regional president, Carles Puigdemont, on Monday asked for international assistance to facilitate peaceful negotiation.

The actions of Spanish riot police demonstrate this is "not a domestic matter," Puigdemont said at a press conference. "It's obvious that we need mediation." The regional Catalan parliament in Barcelona has declared the referendum binding, but Madrid says it is illegal and therefore changes nothing.

Puigdemont's ideal mediator would be the European Union, but the EU has so far treated the dispute as an internal Spanish affair. The EU's executive body, the European Commission, issued a statement shortly before Puigdemont's Monday comments, calling on "all relevant players to now move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue," but not extending an offer to intervene.

Meanwhile, Madrid indicated its intent to permanently prohibit Catalan independence. "We will use the entire force of the law" to keep Spain intact, said Justice Minister Rafael Catala, "even though using certain measures might hurt."