Pro-Independence Catalans Make Cash Withdrawals In Protest

| October 20 , 2017 , 16:39 IST

People in Catalonia flocked to withdraw cash in protest of the Central Government and the banks’ decision to move their headquarters outside the region over the independence crisis.

Protestors could be seen making symbolic withdrawals of 155 Euros and 1,174 Euros. Both the figures are symbolic. 155 Euros is a reference to Article 155 of the Spanish constitution which allows Madrid to suspend Catalonia's autonomy while 1174 marks the capture of Barcelona by the troops of King Felipe V.

The Prime Minister’s office yesterday had said that it would invoke and enact article 155 of the Constitution. The statement came in response to Catalan Leader Carles Puigdemont’s letter which said Catalonia will declare independence should Spain continue to block talks and enact Article 155.

Two influential grassroots separatist groups, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, had issued a call on social media for activists to take "peaceful direct action" to show their opposition to the government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The two groups, whose leaders were detained last week pending investigation into sedition charges, specifically urged supporters to withdraw cash from the five main bank chains, "ideally between 8:00 am and 9:00 am".

ALSO READ: 90 Percent Of 2.2 Million Votes Call For Independent Catalonia

CaixaBank and Banco Sabadell, the largest Catalan lenders, are among hundreds of financial institutions and businesses that have moved their official registration out of Catalonia. Caixa Bank had reportedly moved its headquarters to Valencia.

Catalonia’s longstanding quest for independence from Spain saw a major boost earlier last month when 2.2 million people participated in a referendum asking people if they want Catalonia to be an independent state in form of a Republic.

More than 90% people voted ‘Yes’ following which regional President Carles Puigdemont announced that Catalonia had won the right to decide its future and its sovereignty adding that he would forward the results of the referendum to the regional Parliament and if the majority voted for seceding, he would unilaterally proclaim independence for the Catalonia region.  

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had declared the referendum illegal. Spanish security forces tried to impede the voting process which resulted in the injury of more than 800 people, including 19 police personnel and 14 Civil Guardsmen further fuelling the fire.

Catalonia held a similar referendum in 2014 seeking independence from Spain but only 32 percent of the electorate had turned out.