Spanish Defense Ministry Sends Army to Barcelona — How Catalonia Secured the Urns for its Referendum Under Spain’s Nose

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Spanish Defense Ministry Sends Army to Barcelona

Source: El Confidencial / The Dawn News / October 4, 2017

On Tuesday afternoon, the Spanish Defense Ministry ordered the deployment of the Land Army to Catalunya to provide logistical support to the Civil Guard and the National Police of the Spanish State. This was announced only one hour after the news came out that the Spanish King was going to address the nation.

According to Spanish media outlets, the Army units are tasked with providing “clothes, food, washing, hygiene and shower services” to the members of the Civil Guard and the National Police due to the “problems they have encountered to check into hotels where the Ministry of Interior had made reservations”. Catalan citizens have pressed hotels to expel guests who were part of the occupation forces by protesting outside the installations or meeting with the local councils.

Spain has sent  the Group of Logistic Support No. 41 which is composed of command and “units of provision, maintenance, transport, leadership and personnel”, besides the units of services and workshops that are located in the Santa Eulalia headquarters.

So far, the 10,000 troops stationed in the autonomous community of Catalonia are staying on the ground, and the Interior Ministry has announced on Tuesday that the three touristic cruiseships where the forces are staying had been rented for another week at least.

Spain’s King, Felipe VI, addressed the nation and Catalonia for the first time in his mandate, excluding his Christmas Eve messages, to condemn the autonomous community’s decision to break ties with Spain.


How Catalonia Secured the Urns for its Referendum

By: Sion Biorrun / Source: CCMA / The Dawn News / October 5, 2017

The urns entered Catalonia through roads used during exile.

The 10 thousand urns used in the referendum for Catalonia’s independence arrived from China to the town of Elna, which is located in the northern portion of Catalonia, currently occupied by France.

Elna was the secret location where urns were kept hidden in Elna, and also where a part of the ballots were printed.

The distribution of the material throughout the polling stations (many of which were secret until the day of the vote) was carried out with the cooperation of many citizens in a plan that is movie-like. To avoid interceptions, they used roads that had been used during the Civil War.

Ricardo Nieto is Chief of Patrimony and is in charge of trans-frontier relations with Elna, but he speaks like a citizen of Elna. He explains that when they told him that Elna had been the hiding place of the 10 thousand urns that came from China, he wasn’t surprised.

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“I wasn’t surprised at all. No piece of information was leaked. It was a very well-done operation, completely secret, a great effort which has enabled this referendum to be carried out smoothly, and I’m glad”.

Jordi Vera, coordinator of Oui Pays Catalán, a political group that defends the Catalan territories, says that many people were involved in Northern Catalonia who made this possible, and affirms that secrecy was absolute.

Urns arrive in a car to a voting station. Photo credit: L’Ara

He reports that those who printed the ballots have been targeted by criticism, but they say they would do it again. “One of them said to me ‘I remember that my father, during World War 2, was able to pass to the other side and Catalans helped him get to London’, and that therefore it was natural for them to help Catalans”.

A few days before the referendum, the urns were transported into the Spanish-occupied portion of Catalonia to vote on independence from Spain. The operation was carried out using the common cars and trucks of volunteers. A few passed through the border town of La Jonquera, sometimes with police checkpoints. But the majority used the many roads that were used in the times of exile.



Tears of joy as ballots arrived to the largest voting station in Catalonia.

Spanish police seizes urns in an attempt to stop the referendum. Photo credit: @jcuixart
Photo credit: Twitter
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