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Protest in Catalonia Adds to Pressure Before Independence Vote – New York Times

Catalans feel strongly about their distinct language, history and culture. But such feelings have become entwined in recent years with other issues, including how much tax revenue Catalonia should redistribute to poorer parts of Spain.

In addition to history, many of the participants cited pocketbook issues in wanting independence, after a financial crisis that helped fuel separatism in Catalonia.

“If we look after our own wealth rather than hand it over to Madrid, I’m sure independence will also bring us better economic conditions,” said Laura Solsona, who has a beauty salon in the town of Sabadell and had painted “Yes” on her forehead and a Catalan flag on her cheek.

Carles Puigdemont, the leader of Catalonia, assured the region’s voters that the independence referendum would take place, despite efforts by the Madrid government and Spanish courts to block it.

Catalan citizens “will vote, as they have always done in complete normality,” Mr. Puigdemont said. A referendum, he argued, would not escalate the secessionist conflict because “the ballot boxes don’t divide, they unite.”

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Protest in Catalonia Adds to Pressure Before Independence Vote – New York Times

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