Spain apologizes for a violent police crackdown on Catalonia's independence referendum, in a conciliatory gesture amid the nation's worst political crisis since it became a democracy four decades ago. David Doyle reports.
Spain apologized on Friday (October 6) for a violent police crackdown on Catalonia's referendum - a conciliatory gesture amid an increasingly bitter stand-off between Barcelona and Madrid. Rubber bullets and batons were used on Catalonians trying to vote in Sunday's (October 1) banned vote. That police action criticized both at home and abroad. Catalan health authorities put the number of injured at around 900. A spokesperson for Catalonia's secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont also announced on Friday that he would make an address to Catalonia's regional parliament on Tuesday (October 10). Another move that could ease tensions, given Puigdemont's earlier plan to declare independence as early as Monday (October 9). Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has offered all-party talks to find a solution to the worst political crisis to hit the country since it became a democracy four decades ago. That could open the door for greater Catalan autonomy. But Rajoy has ruled out a move toward independence or any international mediation on the issue and that means tensions are likely to linger. Lawmakers from within Rajoy's own ruling party say he's even considering the dramatic step of invoking Article 155 in the Spanish constitution. That would strip Catalonia of its autonomous status and place it under the direct rule of Madrid. On Friday the central government fired an economic shot across Catalonia's bows, passing a law that makes it easier for companies based in Catalonia to move operations elsewhere in Spain. That decree reportedly tailor-made for Spanish lender Caixabank, Catalonia's biggest company, which is said to be considering moving its base because of political uncertainty in the region. That's after Sabadell, Spain's fifth biggest lender, decided on Thursday (October 5) to move from Catalonia to Alicante.