Spanish police arrest Catalonia's junior economy minister as Spain continues to adopt totalitarian measures to stifle democracy

Raids on Catalan government offices this morning saw Spanish police arrest Catalonia's junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove. This comes ahead of the Catalan referendum on independence from Spain on 1st October, which the Spanish state is doing all in its power to prevent. Local reports say that Spanish police entered offices of the Catalan region's economy, interior, foreign affairs, welfare, telecommunications and tax departments with at least 12 high-ranking local officials being arrested.

Hundreds of protesters blocked Barcelona’s Gran Via, near Jospe Maria Jové’s office, chanting: “Independence!” and “We will vote”. One Catalan MP posted a tweet: "Estem patint un Cop d'Estat. Detencions i escorcolls il.legals. Volen robar-nos la democràcia!! No ho aconseguiran!! 1 oct votarem " (“This is a coup d’état. Illegal detentions and searches. They want to steal our democracy. They won’t be able to. We vote Oct 1".)

Yesterday the Guardia Civil confiscated referendum papers at a private delivery company in the Catalan city of Terrassa. More than 1.5m referendum leaflets and posters have also been seized. Meanwhile the first of hundreds of Catalan mayors were also forced to appear before the state prosecutor on Tuesday after they said they would back the referendum. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has denounced what he described as "coordinated aggression" and the "totalitarian attitude" on the part of the Spanish state. Following a crisis meeting of the Catalan cabinet, he said Madrid was not respecting the principles of democracy and had "crossed a red line" into behaviour characteristic of dictatorial states. He went on to insist that the referendum would go ahead despite the abuses of what he described as an "repressive and intimidatory regime", and insisted Catalunya would defend democracy in a peaceful manner. In what was a clear reference to the past repression of Catalonia by the Franco dictatorship he said: "We will not accept a return to times past". 

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