A Monday morning deadline came and went without the president of the Catalonia region clarifying whether he had declared independence from Spain. The Spanish government says he now has until Thursday to either say he didn't declare independence or to show he's taking action to cancel the declaration if he did. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy did exchange letters, though. Responding to a demand from Spain's central government to state explicitly whether he had declared independence, Puigdemont instead sent a four-page letter seeking two months of negotiations and mediation, noting, "We want to talk." Rajoy's response came less than two hours later. Rajoy lamented that Puigdemont had declined to answer the question and said that he has until Thursday morning to fall in line, reports the AP.
Otherwise, he faces the possibility of Spain activating Article 155 of the Constitution, which would allow the central government to rescind some of the powers that Catalonia has to govern itself. "It wasn't very difficult to say yes or no," Rajoy's No. 2, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, told reporters in Madrid. "That was the question that was asked and the response shouldn't be complicated." Saenz de Santamaria said that Puigdemont's call for dialogue is "not credible" and that Spain's national parliament is the place to talk. Puigdemont held a banned independence referendum on Oct. 1, made an ambiguous declaration of independence last week, then immediately suspended it to allow time for talks and mediation. Spain has repeatedly said that it's not willing to sit down with Puigdemont if calls for independence are on the table.