‘We want to be a free country,’ Catalonia roars as Spain clamps down on independence referendum

Catalan pro-freedom leaders and supporters of the region’s right to hold a referendum on independence from Spain have held a rally backing more than 700 mayors facing the threat of arrest, the BBC reported today.

The mayors have been called in for questioning by prosecutors for agreeing to facilitate the vote locally, the report said.

“They could be arrested if they do not attend and prosecuted for using public funds if they help stage the ballot. Madrid has promised to block the vote, saying it is unconstitutional,” the report said.

Catalonia’s regional government insists it will take place as scheduled despite a growing clampdown by the Spanish state, the report added.

Some of the mayors gathered with Catalan President Carles Puigdemont outside the headquarters of the regional government, the Generalitat Palace, as supporters waved the lone-star flag of the independence movement, the report said.

“We stand firm against threats, censorship and prosecution and repeat this: we want to be a free country,” Puigdemont told the crowd, according to a tweet by the Catalan National Assembly grassroots independence movement, the report said.

“Chants of “We will vote” could be heard from the crowd. Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who supports the right to hold the referendum, also turned up.”

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