Trump backs Spain’s PM in dispute over Catalonia independence vote

Trump backs Spain's PM in dispute over Catalonia independence vote 

Photo showing Spanish Defense Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal, who met with her counterpart, James Mattis, on Sept. 24, 2017, at the 22nd US-Spain Annual Forum in Williamsburg, Virginia. EFE/JJ Martin

Washington, Sep 24 (efe-epa).- US Defense Secretary James Mattis told his Spanish counterpart, Maria Dolores de Cospedal, on Sunday that the Trump administration supported Madrid’s handling of the political situation in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

Cospedal said at a press conference in Washington that Mattis made his remarks during their meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia, within the framework of the 22nd US-Spain Annual Forum.

The Spanish minister also said that she conveyed to Mattis the gratitude of the Madrid government of Mariano Rajoy for the support.

Catalonia, with 7.5 million residents, is one of Spain’s richest regions, contributing about 20 percent of the country’s GDP, and it is governed by the independence-minded Junts pel Si (JxS) coalition comprised of the center-right nationalist PDCat and the leftist ERC republicans.

Supported by the radical independence supporters of the CUP, on Sept. 6, the regional Parliament approved the so-called “referendum law” that allowed the Catalan government to schedule a secessionist referendum for Oct. 1.

The Spanish Constitutional Court, however, later suspended that decision and also a law approved by the Catalan regional Parliament that would permit the formation of a new republic, but that was appealed by the Madrid government.

The measure presented by the Spanish government holds that the law “threatens” the basis of coexistence among the regions on which Spain has relied since 1978, when its national Constitution was enacted, and constitutes the “greatest conceivable attack” on democratic values.