A Mix of Hope, Fear and Anger in Catalonia After Millions Vote for Independence From Spain

Catalonia remained on edge on Monday, a day after millions voted for independence from Spain in a referendum that the central government used force to disrupt, severely limiting turnout but also raising questions about the legitimacy of a democracy that orders the police to beat voters.

As the European Union spurned an appeal from the president of the Catalan autonomous region, Carles Puigdemont, to facilitate talks with Spain about what comes next, tens of thousands of students marched through the streets of Barcelona with their mouths taped shut, to express their frustration about the Spanish government denying them a voice.

There was particular outrage at the violence inflicted on voters by members of Spanish police forces who were called in to block the referendum after a Spanish court ruled that it was unconstitutional. The images of police officers beating voters and firing rubber bullets at polling places on Sunday stunned and horrified Catalans, and rage at the police only grew on Monday as more video clips were broadcast and circulated on social media.

In Barcelona, hundreds of protesters blocked traffic outside the headquarters of the Spanish national police force in the city, where Catalan nationalists were tortured during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. As protesters screamed abuse at the Spanish police inside the building, the autonomous Catalan police force, the Mossos, was called in to keep the peace.

Outside Barcelona, in the town of Calella, residents demanded that Spanish Guardia Civil officers be withdrawn after video showed that plainclothes officers had attacked protesters outside their hotel.

The officers were evacuated from Calella after a day of angry protests.

Rage at the national police was not dimmed by the revelation that officers billeted at the port of Barcelona posed with the Spanish flag for a triumphal victory photograph after attacking Catalan voters.

How the crisis can be defused without further…

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