Spain's FM calls Catalan referendum a mockery of democracy

"We want to make sure the school is open for activities and at night when they might come to clear us out or empty it, there will be families sleeping or people in the street", Hector, a 43-year-old local, told Reuters news agency. "Friends, so that victory is definite, on Sunday, let's dress up in referendum (clothes) and leave home prepared to change history, to end the process and start progress, social progress, economic progress and cultural and national progress".

The central government in Madrid has vowed to stop the vote, which it says is a violation of the constitution. It has deployed thousands of extra police from across the country to Catalonia to stop the vote.

"The government has planned everything so that all goes the normal way", said Carles Puigdemont at least 24 hours of the referendum is prohibited on the independence, asking the catalans to avoid violence.

Friday also saw a judge order media giant Google to remove an application giving information about the outlawed referendum. The Guardia Civil were stationed on ships in the port of Barcelona in case they were needed.

Oriol Junqueras said Catalan citizens will be able to vote "even if somebody takes voting stations by assault and tries to avoid something as natural as placing a voting slip in a ballot". In response to this many parents have made a decision to spend the weekend with their children inside the schools.

EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani said on Friday that the dispute is "a Spanish problem in which we can do little". "Then, if "yes" or "no", it's up to each person".

Spain will brace itself on Sunday as the region of Catalonia prepares to hold a referendum on independence.

The government in Madrid ridiculed the preparations, saying there had been no formal campaign period and no electoral roll.

Barcelona may have to play in Italy, France or the Premier League if Catalonia gains independence from Spain, according to Catalonia's Minister of Sport, Gerard Figueras.

Where the referendum is concerned, he said that many Catalans would have wanted Madrid to provide "more convincing arguments than the need to respect the law and the police".

The Catalan government appeared to soften its language somewhat in a news conference Saturday, with officials talking of "peaceful resistance" and a peaceful demonstration of people's democratic rights. She also blamed the central government for worsening the situation.

Alfonso Dastis told the Associated Press: "What they are pushing is not democracy".

On Thursday, Barcelona's city police confiscated official ballot boxes and locked them away in a sealed off warehouse to prevent them from being used in the "illegal" plebiscite.

"I think that from now it would be logical for the European Union to actively monitor (the situation) and actively take an interest", he said.

He said: "I don't think you would be ready to allow a part of a system to vote for the whole".

Hundreds of Catalan separatists protest earlier this month. With Barcelona as its regional capital, Catalonia contributes a fifth of Spain's 1.1 trillion euro ($1.32 trillion) economy.

  • Rogelio Becker