Colorado Catalans react to violence amid push for independence

DENVER -- The crisis in Spain continues with no end in sight. Catalonia has declared independence from Spain, but the succession is not happening without a fight.

Catalans in Denver said they are worried for their families and friends back home after seeing images of Spanish police officers using force against pro-independence activists.

Catalonia is in northeastern Spain. Its largest city is Barcelona. The area is home to more than 7.5 million people.

Those behind the movement to succeed from Spain say, in some ways, Spain is still a dictatorship.

“That big change in point of view [from dictatorship to democracy] never happened,” Catalonia national Roger Huerta said.

Huerta is studying at the University of Colorado. He and his Catalan friends in Colorado have been closely monitoring developments in the news.

“When you have people sleeping in schools protecting the ballot boxes -- what kind of democracy is that,” asked Catalan national Marina Ribes-Martin.

Huerta and Ribes-Martin favor Catalan independence. So too does Anna Huerta-Giralt, a Catalan who said Madrid is taking advantage of the area.

“We send a lot of our taxes to Madrid, but not a lot of money comes back,” Huerta-Giralt said.

Spain’s prime minister said he is dissolving the regional parliament in Catalonia after a recent vote for independence.

The action is the latest power play after a referendum for independence that prompted police in riot gear to block entrances to polling locations.

The Spanish government maintains the election was illegal. It does not consider Catalonia its own country.

Government forces are working to squash the attempt to  secede.

Colorado Catalans said a majority of Spanish citizens, living outside Catalonia, seem to favor a unified Spain.

Natalia Martinez, originally from Barcelona, said police prevented her from voting twice.

“[The police] were aggressive,” Martinez said. “Even though they say they weren’t … they were.”

Martinez said her third attempt to vote for independence was a success.

Many Catalans living in the United States feel powerless to help, creating an even greater amount of concern and stress.

“I’m scared to look at the news for my family,” Catalan national Ana Henry said.