49-year-old king of Spain, King Felipe VI intervened dramatically on Tuesday in the crisis over Catalan leaders’ bid for independence, accusing them of threatening the country’s stability and urging the state to defend “constitutional order.”
The king who abandoned his previously measured tone over tensions with Catalonia as the standoff dragged Spain into its deepest political trouble in decades.
He spoke out after hundreds of thousands of Catalans rallied in fury at violence by police against voters during a banned referendum on independence for their region on Sunday.
Catalan regional leaders held the vote in defiance of the national government which brands it illegal as did Felipe on Tuesday.
He said “With their irresponsible conduct they could put at risk the economic and social stability of Catalonia and all of Spain,”
“They have placed themselves totally outside the law and democracy,” he added.
“It is the responsibility of the legitimate state powers to ensure constitutional order.”
This statement was made after Crowds gathered in Barcelona on Tuesday yelling for national security forces to get out of the region, branding them “occupation forces” and raising their middle fingers at a police helicopter circling overhead.
This also made the Barcelona football club refused to train as part of a strike.
Officials said the strike slowed down public transport and paralysed freight shipments in the port of Barcelona.
It also closed down tourist sites such as the city’s emblematic Sagrada Familia Church.
Protesters rallied in the afternoon and a further demo started in the early evening, with demonstrators dancing in a central Barcelona avenue and beating drums in a carnival atmosphere.
“The streets will always be ours,” the youths in the crowds yelled.