Pro-separatist groups in Catalonia have begun the distribution of ballots for the October 1 secession referendum, and despite the Spanish government’s desperate attempts to crack down on the region, there is little sign they’ll be able to prevent the vote.
Spain’s efforts to stop the vote aren’t the only ones they’re making, however, with growing police actions against key Catalan politicians and pro-secessionist parties seen as part of a broader attempt by the national government to discredit the movement at large.
Legal complaints made against Catalonia’s leader Carlos Puigdemont from years ago, when he was a mayor, are suddenly resurfacing, with police raids being carried out less than two weeks before the referendum. Catalonians see this as part of what they call “Operation Catalonia,” a concerted effort by national police to keep the secessionist movement drowning in corruption charges.
Spanish officials deny that the timing of these sudden efforts mean anything, though it’s not clear that arguing that it took them 2+ years to start investigating corruption allegations is either credible or a particularly positive narrative for Spain, particularly at a time when so much of their national police force seems to be dedicated to raiding random printing houses in hopes of stumbling on ballots to confiscate.