by Alex Marchante
Over 800 men and women have been left injured during a day that was scheduled to be historic in a different, less violent way.
Sunday, October 1 was scheduled to be the date of the Catalonia referendum for independence from Spain.
The wealthy northeastern region of Spain is mainly autonomous, with its own language, rich culture, ancient history and regional capital, Barcelona, is still a part of Spain however.
Catalonia’s autonomy is similar to that of Basque Country, another region of Spain that although not independent, still relishes in its ancient culture and contrast from the rest of the nation.
The Spanish government had previously stated the referendum in the name of independence was “unconstitutional”, according to many sources.
In 2014, during the last vote by the Catalonian people, the Spanish government’s constitutional court had also ruled that vote as “unconstitutional”.
Despite this and despite the Spanish government declaring that it would take over any voting precincts available, Catalans took to the voting booth to express their voices.
In total, at a 42.3 percent turnout, Catalans voted a resounding 90.1 percent in favor of independence, with less than 8 percent voting to remain a part of Spain.
Over 20,000 votes had reportedly been seized. However, this is a small percentage, less than one percent to be exact, of the over 2.2 million votes cast throughout the day.
With the voting, however, came large-scale violence from Spanish police to the voters.
As the hours passed throughout the day, the injured headcount has increased from 100 to 300 to 400 and currently sits at over 800, although no one has been confirmed dead.
Also, 92 polling stations had been closed by Spanish police and some ballots had been seized, according to the BBC.
Very graphic videos of the violence between police and unarmed voters have come in during the day, available here, here, and many more sources.
In videos of the violence, police officers can be seen dragging individuals from crowds and beating them with batons, punching and kicking those on the ground and ganging up on unharmed Catalans.
Barcelona mayor Ada Colau called for the resignation of Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy. Colau also harshly criticized the police violence “against a defenseless population”.
Rajoy said the independence referendum only served to sow divisions, according to the Associated Press.
He also thanked the Spanish police, saying they acted with “firmness and serenity” in response to the referendum.
At nightfall, some Catalans took to the streets to sing their anthem, “The Reapers” or “Els Segadors” in Catalan.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont had stated that the region had won the right to statehood.
“With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form a republic,” Puigdemont stated in a televised address.
Puigdemont continued by claiming the legitimacy of the referendum:
“My government, in the next few days will send the results of today’s vote to the Catalan parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the law of the referendum.”
Although Spain had adamantly attempted to suspend the vote, regional leaders in Catalonia went along with the vote.
There is no word from the Spanish government when or whether they plan to allow another referendum in Catalonia