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A Catalan Opposed To Catalonia's Independence Referendum


Tomorrow, Catalans may get to vote on independence from Spain. Catalonia's 7.5 million people have their own language, culture and identity. Their capital, Barcelona, is an economic powerhouse that drives a fifth of Spain's economy. The Spanish central government says the referendum is unconstitutional. Catalan officials have been defiant and say the vote will go forward, but there are residents of Catalonia who are opposed to the vote. Among them is Javier Castellanos of Barcelona who's been outspoken against the referendum.

JAVIER CASTELLANOS: It's not that I want Catalonia to remain in Spain. It's that I want this matter decided in a binding, legal referendum.

SIMON: So you believe a nonbinding referendum is just not a practical idea.

CASTELLANOS: I don't think it is going to work.

SIMON: How would you vote on that referendum?

CASTELLANOS: I would probably vote no.

SIMON: And why, sir?

CASTELLANOS: Well, because there is a lot of propaganda, like in Brexit. They say that everything is going to be fine, that we're going to be richer, we're going to be freer. But there is little evidence that things are going to change significantly for Catalonian people.

SIMON: Would you be concerned that an independent Catalonia would be even weaker economically?

CASTELLANOS: Yeah because probably we will be outside the European Union for we don't know how many years. And this is going to affect our economy, obviously.

SIMON: The - of course, the reports that the Spanish government has mobilized thousands of police officers to try and prevent the voting from taking place in a lot of places. Do you think that will wind up just making a number of Catalans feel even more resentment?

CASTELLANOS: Of course it will.

SIMON: And therefore, perhaps not a good idea for the Spanish government?

CASTELLANOS: Yeah. But I don't know, really, what options they have because, from the other side, the Catalan government has been defiant. In fact, unilateral independence was declared in the original Parliament on September 7. These referendum needs (unintelligible) procedure to make that legitimate.

SIMON: Mr. Castellanos, are you going to vote on Sunday?


SIMON: Are you concerned, though, that if you don't vote, you're essentially handing victory to the people who want Catalan independence?

CASTELLANOS: Well, I'm not sure about it. It depends of the volume of the abstention. I mean, if only 35, 40 percent of the people vote, how binding is going to be that kind of referendum for an independence?

SIMON: So you think that's the best thing for people who are opposed to independence to do, is not vote tomorrow?

CASTELLANOS: Yeah. If you are going to vote, you are legitimizing the referendum.

SIMON: Javier Castellanos in Barcelona - thanks so much for speaking with us, sir.

CASTELLANOS: Thanks to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.