Catalonia's leader made clear his government was determined to go ahead with a Sunday vote on independence that Madrid calls illegal and which has thrust Spain into its most dramatic political crisis for decades. Laura Frykberg reports.
Taking a dig at Spanish authorities. These tractor drivers in Barcelona say they will vote in the region's independence referendum this weekend. Their actions, and Catalan authorities, defy the Spanish government, which says the vote's illegal. It's deployed thousands of police to Catalonia this weekend, to try and prevent people casting their ballots, a move many in the region say they'll ignore. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CATALAN PRESIDENT, CARLES PUIGDEMONT, SAYING: "We knew this referendum would be made difficult by the Spanish state, with excessive and abusive deployment of police forces. So we've prepared more than 2,000 polling stations, with ballot boxes and everything needed so that people can express their opinion." Last week, the Spanish government said independence could hurt Catalonia. Shrinking its economy as much as 30 per cent, and doubling unemployment. That would be a big blow for the industrial region, with its strong export sector and thriving tourism industry. It currently produces about a fifth of the country's total economic output. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GLOBAL FINANCIAL ECONOMIST, COMMERZBANK, PETER DIXON, SAYING: I really can't see this being the catalyst for a break-up of Spain and certainly it's not something which euro zone investors are really paying a lot of attention to at the moment. Though perhaps they should be, given weeks of protest demanding the vote go ahead. Similar crowds are expected on Sunday, in what many are calling one of Spain's biggest political crises, since the end of decades of dictatorship in the 1970s.