Thousands of people are rallying Sunday in downtown Barcelona to protest the Catalan government's push for secession from the rest of Spain. Many in the crowd gathered in a central square carried Spanish and Catalan flags. Some chanted "Don't be fooled, Catalonia is Spain" and called for Catalan president Carles Puigdemont to go to prison, reports the AP. Sunday's rally comes a week after Puigdemont and other separatist leaders of the Catalan government held a referendum on secession that Spain's top court suspended and the Spanish government said was illegal. The "Yes" side won with 90% of the vote, though less than half of the region's electorate voted. Puigdemont has pledged to push ahead for independence and is set to address the regional parliament Tuesday "to report on the current political situation."
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy vows his government will not allow Catalonia to break away, telling El Pais on Sunday that he will employ any measure "allowed by the law" to stop the separatists. Rajoy said that includes Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which would allow the central government to take control of the governance of a region "if the regional government does not comply with the obligations of the Constitution." "The ideal situation would be that I don't have to find drastic solutions, but for that to happen there will have to be some rectifications (by Catalan leaders)," Rajoy said. Large rallies were held Saturday to demand that Rajoy and Puigdemont find a solution to Spain's worst political crisis in four decades. "I hope that nothing will happen. (Catalonia) is going to lose more than (Spain) because businesses are fleeing from here already," said a protestor. Polls taken before the referendum showed Catalonia's 7.5 million residents were split over secession. (Read more Catalonia stories.)