The White House says it continues to support a united Spain following Sunday's referendum on Catalonian independence and the violent clashes with Spanish riot police that ensued.
“We were saddened to see violence break out yesterday in Catalonia," a White House spokesperson said in a statement to IJR. "As demonstrated by [Spanish Prime Minister Mariano] Rajoy's visit to the White House last week, Spain is a NATO ally and a close U.S. partner on counterterrorism, North Korea, and Venezuela. We support a strong and united Spain. We also support the right to free assembly, and we urge those involved to act consistent with Spanish law.”
More than 840 people were injured during a referendum among Catalonians. About 42 percent of eligible voters showed up to the polls, and 90 percent of them want independence from Spain.
According to The Associated Press, Spanish police barged into polling stations, fired rubber bullets, and confiscated ballots.
The European Commission has declared that the Catalan referendum is not legal under Spanish law. But Carles Puigdemont, the president of Catalonia's government, said that after the overwhelming vote, the EU “cannot look the other way any longer.”
During the Spanish prime minister's visit to the White House in late September, President Donald Trump had a similar message on unifying Spain.
“I've been watching that unfold, but it's actually been unfolding for centuries. And I think that nobody knows if they're going to have a vote. I think [Rajoy] would say they're not going to have a vote. But I think that the people would be very much opposed to that. I can say only speaking for myself, I would like to see Spain continue to be united,” Trump said.
Following the violence, the Catalan government will launch an investigation into potential abuses to the “fundamental rights” of referendum demonstrators.