Catalan mayors defiant over independence vote pressure

Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont gives a speech during a campaign meeting for a banned independence referendum

"Do not underestimate the Catalan people", he warned.

Some of the mayors gathered with Catalan President Carles Puigdemont outside the headquarters of the regional government, the Generalitat Palace, as supporters waved the lone-star flag of the independence movement, the report said.

Earlier, Spain's Constitutional Court suspended legislation passed in the Catalan parliament which paved the way for the vote.

More than two-thirds of the autonomous region's mayors have said they will facilitate the vote and allow municipal buildings to be used, in violation of Madrid's orders.

Police in recent days have conduced raids seizing printing materials, ballots and other materials to support the referendum.

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Catalonia is expected to hold an independence referendum on October 1, despite the plebiscite being declared illegal by the Spanish federal government. Organizing the referendum will be almost impossible without the cooperation of local municipalities.

"I think it's very sad. This is what we regret most of all", Neus Lloveras, member of the Catalonian parliament, told RT.

Thousands of Basques holding banners that read "we want to decide" marched on Saturday (Sep 16) in support of Catalonia's independence referendum to separate from Madrid, which Basque separatists have long fought for. City authorities have been forced to sign an agreement that federal money will not be used for referendum purposes. "This is not about independence, it's about our rights", said Colau. He added that if Catalonia gains independence, it will not be able to become an EU member state immediately after the referendum and will have to follow the same accession process to be admitted to the European Union as those countries that had been entering the bloc since 2004.

According to July poll, only 41 percent of Catalans favor independence but almost 70 want a vote. "We keep offering the Spanish state to be involved and to participate in this democratic exercise, but it's up to them".

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