BARCELONA, Spain — The Latest on the independence Catalonia (all times local):
Grassroots groups driving Catalonia’s independence movement say they have started distributing one million ballots to be used in a referendum on secession that the Spanish government has vowed to stop.
Jordi Cuixart, the president of the separatist group Omnium Cultural, announced the ballots were being distributed during a rally in Barcelona on Sunday. Cuixart says “here are the packs of ballots that we ask you to hand out across Catalonia.”
Spanish police have confiscated millions of ballots in recent days as part of a crackdown to stop the Oct. 1 vote, which has been suspended by Spain’s Constitutional Court.
Catalonia’s separatists have pledged to hold the vote regardless.
Thousands of Catalan separatists are rallying in public squares in Barcelona and other towns in support of a disputed referendum on independence of the northeastern region from Spain.
Many are carrying pro-independence flags and signs calling for the Oct. 1 independence vote that the Spanish government calls illegal and has pledged to stop.
The crowds have been asked by secessionist politicians to print and distribute posters supporting the vote.
Carme Forcadell, the speaker of Catalonia’s regional parliament, told a Barcelona crowd, “I ask you to go out and vote! Vote for the future of Catalonia!”
Spain’s Constitutional Court has suspended the local law calling for the referendum and police have cracked down on preparations for the vote.
Separatists have pressed ahead anyway, vowing to declare independence if the “Yes” wins.