Catalan Students, Activists Continue Pro-Referendum Protests

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Lorena Torrecillas, a 27-year-old physiotherapist who passed by the student protest, said she opposed independence because the pro-separatist camp had not explained well enough what the advantages of splitting from Spain would be.

Joaquin Forn says that officials are determined to proceed with Sunday's vote, even though Spain's government says it's illegal and can't happen. All police members are being told to close any schools and planned polling stations over the weekend to prevent the vote, along with prohibiting voting boxes within 100 meters of where Catalan official plan to have a polling station.

Mr Forn says the central government is deploying 10,000 police officers in Catalonia for the ballot.

Colau is against independence but she condemned the behavior of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's "intransigent government" in Madrid, saying it had worsened the standoff with the Catalan regional government.

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He said Catalan authorities have no bones of contention with the National Police and Civil Guard, which have enacted some controversial central government measures to prevent the vote.

Thousands of students and citizens are marching through Barcelona's main avenues, plazas and the University of Barcelona, shouting "we will vote" and holding giant Catalan flags into the air. Regional leaders have said they are ready to declare Catalonia's independence two days after the "yes" wins regardless the turnout.

The EU should do its duty as a repository of democratic values by telling Spain to allow a referendum on Catalan independence to take place, the region's foreign affairs chief said.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Romeva pointed out the "brutal crackdown" on Catalan advocating institutions, the rights of media outlets, the prosecution of "more than eight hundred mayors", the harassment of civil rights organizations, journalists and individuals.

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European Union institutions need to "understand that (the referendum) is a big issue", Romeva said in Brussels.

Justice Minister Rafael Catala accused Catalan president Carles Puigdemont of "serious irresponsibility" for pressing ahead with the vote and repeated Madrid's call that the separatists "stop this process".

He said that he doesn't expect violence, because "it's not in the Catalan DNA to use violence to solve political problems".

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