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Catalan referendum: Spain sends in army, pushing region to brink

Spain has reportedly sent two convoys of troops into Catalonia in a move that is likely to anger the regional parliament

5 October 2017, 9:32am
President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont (left) and Felipe VI, the king of Spain (Photo: STV)
President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont (left) and Felipe VI, the king of Spain (Photo: STV)
Troops from the Logistic Support Group 41 (AALOG 41), who are based in Aragon, a land-locked region in north eastern Spain, were told of their move at about 7pm last night.

The exact number of soldiers is unknown but according to newspaper El Confidencial, two contingents of troops are being sent in “20 trucks”.

It is understood that their orders are to provide logistical support to the Guardia Civil; national police are still stationed in the region.

This move is likely to be seen as highly controversial, as the President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont has previously referred to the presence of the Guardia Civil and national police as “occupying forces” and said they should leave all four of the Catalan provinces immediately.

Former Vice President Alfonso Guerra defends the idea of sending the Army to Catalonia.

The former president and leader of socialist party PSOE Alfonso Guerra defended the decision to send the Army into Catalonia, in case the police were not able to control the situation created by a "pro-fascist" independence movement that is attempting "a coup d’etat".

Alfonso Guerra also supported the message that the King passed on last night as he made an emphasis "where it is needed, in the members of the coup d’etat", with whom he believes it is not possible to negotiate.

The troops are believed to have been stationed at the barracks in Santa Eulalia de Sant Boi de Llobregat, a few miles from Barcelona.

Group 41 provides support services and maintenance as well as workshop units and have previously been deployed in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

The move comes after about 150 members of the Guardia Civil were forced to leave their hotel accommodation in the coastal town of Calella on Monday, after a protest by locals over what they say was “police brutality” during the referendum vote on independence, which was banned by Madrid.

Monserrat Candini, the mayor of the town, told a group of 500 protestors: “We don’t want the hotels in Calella to be a barracks.”

The protestors repeatedly chanted “You’re not welcome” at the Civil Guard.

The mayor later phoned the owners of the hotel insisting they leave and the hotel has since closed its doors to the public.

More than 2.2 million people managed to vote in the controversial referendum with 90% of voters wanting Catalonia to become a separate nation, outside of control from Spain.

Mr Puigdemont said he would declare independence “in a matter of days”.

 

King Felipe VI, in a televised address to the whole country, said the organisers of the vote had put themselves "outside the law".

He said the situation in Spain was "extremely serious", calling for unity.