SPAIN: Catalonia, the restive northeastern region that is Spain’s economic powerhouse, is attempting to vote on Sunday in an independence referendum.
In defiance of Spanish authorities, thousands of Catalans turned out to vote early Sunday. Some had slept overnight at polling stations to make sure the police could not close them.
The central government in Madrid, with the support of Spanish courts, says the vote is unconstitutional and should be suspended. It is doing everything it can to prevent it from happening, including confiscating ballots, shutting down the internet, and threatening Catalan officials with arrest and prosecution.
The Catalans say that their distinct language, history and culture entitle them to nationhood, or at least to the chance to decide for themselves whether to break from Spain.