Catalonia goes on strike to protest independence

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Madrid has the power to suspend the semi-autonomous status that Catalonia now enjoys under Spain's system of regional governments.

In a special national address Tuesday night, Spain's King Felipe VI said Catalan authorities had deliberately bent the law with "irresponsible conduct".

Asked what would happen if Spain seized Catalonia's autonomy, as it appears poised to do, Puigdemont told the BBC: "it would be an error which changes everything".

"They have broken the democratic principles of the rule of law".

A rich industrial region of 7.5 million people with their own language and cultural traditions, Catalonia accounts for a fifth of Spain's economy.

The crisis in Spain grew more acute Sunday when some 900 people needed medical attention after police cracked down to try to prevent the vote. Many of those opposed to independence are thought to have stayed at home after the referendum was ordered suspended by a Spanish court. Over 400 police also had bruises.

Puigdemont left in the hands of the Catalonian Parliament and of independentist groups -with a majority in the regional chamber- the following steps to be taken in the so-called disconnection process, including the format and time of an eventual unilateral declaration of independence. On Tuesday, huge crowds held street protests in Catalonia and unions staged a strike to protest the police's actions. Of those who voted, some 90 percent backed independence, according to Catalan officials.

After considering timid and moderate the response of the European Union to the eve's events, Puigdemont recommended the bloc supports his initiative of global mediation between the Generalitat and the administration of the also conservative Rajoy.

The court said the four will be questioned Friday about their roles in demonstrations September 20-21 in Barcelona, when Spanish police arrested several Catalan government officials and raided offices in a crackdown on preparations for the referendum.

After a meeting with his cabinet to ponder the triumph of Yes to independence of Catalonia, in a consultation forbidden by Spanish justice, Puigdemont demanded the withdrawal of security forces sent by the central executive to that autonomous community.

The judge leading the judicial investigation, Carmen Lamela, also summoned the leaders of two prominent Catalan pro-independence civil groups: Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural and Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC).

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