Catalonia Overwhelmingly Votes To Separate From Spain

The Catalan government says 90 percent of voters supported independence from Spain in Sunday's referendum.
Posted at 10:06 AM, Oct 02, 2017

The Catalan government says 90 percent of the roughly 2.26 million people who cast ballots during Sunday's independence referendum voted in favor of separating from Spain. 

Spanish police and security forces tried to prevent Catalans from voting, causing violent clashes. Authorities donned riot gear, confiscated ballot boxes, shot residents with rubber bullets and dragged voters from the polls. 

Catalan officials said at least 893 people required medical care. Spain's Interior Ministry reported 19 police officers and 14 Civil Guard members were injured.

Catalonia is one of the wealthiest regions in Spain. The autonomous region has its own distinct language and culture. Catalans say the Spanish government is benefiting from the region's prosperity but not allowing its citizens political freedom.

It's a fight that, in some ways, goes all the way back to the 1700s, when King Philip V of Spain captured Catalonia's capital, Barcelona.

In 1939, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco began attempting to eradicate Catalan nationalism, and with it the Catalan language and institutions.

He killed thousands of its citizens. But when he died in 1975, the fight for independence began again.

In 2014, Catalonia held a symbolic independence referendum, and 80 percent of voters supported sovereignty. 

The Spanish government declared Sunday's referendum unconstitutional prior to the vote. The Catalan government is holding a meeting Monday to discuss the next steps toward independence.