Student Marc Cots believes Catalans want an independence referendum
so badly, they would turn out to vote even if Spain sent tanks to the
region to stop them.
"We have to vote. If they want, on the day of
the referendum they can bring tanks to Catalonia but we are going to
vote all the same," said the 20-year-old after signing a petition in
central Barcelona in favour of the referendum.
government has already set November 9 as the date for the referendum --
two months after an independence vote in Scotland that has been
authorised by the British government.
But Spain's Constitutional
Court on Tuesday ruled "unconstitutional and null" a declaration by the
Catalan regional parliament which claimed Catalonia had a sovereign
right to hold a vote on its future.
The court upheld a legal
challenge to that declaration by Spain's national government, which
argues referendums on sovereignty must be held nationally and not
"For me, the Constitutional Court ruling doesn't change anything," Cots said, however.
is a nation due to its history, its language and its different culture.
We have a right to vote whether they like it or not."
He was one
in a steady stream of people that included pensioners, young families
with children and tourists who visited a stand set up in Barcelona's
Catalonia Square by the Catalan National Assembly, a powerful pressure
group, to gather signatures on the petition.
The petition urges
Catalonia's political leaders to "do as much as they can, that they
exhaust all of the paths open to a referendum".
The group has not
revealed the total number of signatures it has collected so far, but
said that over the weekend of January 11-12 it gathered over 200,000 at
booths set up across Catalonia, which is home to 7.5 million people.
are very excited because we have never been so close to achieving it,"
said Maria Lluisa Forcadell, a 55-year-old volunteer who staffed the
stand on Catalonia Square.
The stand was decorated with the
Catalan independence flag, which features red and yellow stripes and a
white star inside a blue triangle.
"You can't negotiate anything
with Madrid. They have made their response clear. So we have to press
ahead even if it is outside of the law," said Sergi Codina, 32, a
restaurant manager, as he signed the petition.
- 'Can't turn back now' -
Polls show that 70-80 percent of Catalans want the referendum to be held. Source