Catalans Plan Wave of Civil Disobedience

Civil servants expected to defy rule from Madrid
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 30, 2017 3:54 AM CDT
Catalans Plan Wave of Civil Disobedience
People celebrate the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia outside the Catalan Parliament, in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.   (AP Photo/ Emilio Morenatti)

After lawmakers in Catalonia voted in favor of independence Friday, the Spanish government was aghast, quickly triggering unprecedented constitutional measures to fire the regional government and take direct control of many of Catalonia's affairs in order to thwart secession. But some separatist-minded Catalans have vowed to carry out a wave of civil disobedience in response to the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, saying they refuse to recognize Madrid's authority, the AP reports. A few days before the vote, Catalonia's now-sacked foreign affairs minister, Raul Romeva, said he believed the region's civil servants—who number about 200,000—would continue following orders from "the elected and legitimate institutions" rather than from Madrid.

Since democracy was restored in Spain after dictator Gen. Francisco Franco's death in 1975, Catalonia has run its own local institutions, including public media, schools, police, firefighters, and health facilities. Among the first to hint that Madrid's takeover wouldn't go smoothly were Barcelona's firefighters. Even before Article 155 was invoked, they issued a statement describing the central government's threats to do so as "the most serious attack suffered by Catalonia since 1939," the start of Franco's dictatorship, and vowing to only obey Catalan authorities. Firefighters say they would never do anything that would put people at risk, but disobedience could mean refusing to fly an official flag at the fire station. (Tens of thousands of opponents to independence gathered in Barcelona on Sunday.)

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