The Spanish government's staunch opposition, the lukewarm response of the worldwide community to the prospect of a breakaway state in Europe and the concerns of business leaders all suggest an independence move would extract a heavy price from Catalan's separatist leaders. Now, Madrid is weighing its nuclear option.
After the speech the Catalan leader of the opposition Ines Arrimadas said "a declaration in instalments is the same as a declaration of independence", and criticised Mr Puidgemont for throwing the region in to chaos.
And in the meantime, we've heard from several companies that have offices in Catalonia that they would leave the region and move their headquarters out of this region and into a neighboring Spanish region. The Spanish authorities however regard this referendum illegal and refuse to recognize its results.
Before the speech European Council President Donald Tusk said independence would be "obviously be bad for the Catalans, for Spain and for the whole of Europe".
Puigdemont also used his speech to recall the "humiliations" Catalonia had suffered at the hands of the Spanish state in the past 15 years: changes made by the Constitutional Court in sensitive matters regarding autonomy in 2006; the continued refusal of the central government to hold a popular vote on Catalan independence; punitive measures against those who merely wanted to start a national inquiry on independence on November 9, 2014 - and finally the violent action of Spanish police forces during the referendum on October 1, 2017.
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The leader of the Catalan socialist party, Miquel Iceta, also criticized the legitimacy of the referendum result.
However he added his speech was "not a personal decision, it is the result of the (vote on the) first of October". Catalan leaders say 90 percent of the ballots were cast in favor of independence. The park was shut down early this morning, as were all the surrounding streets. In all, 2.28 million Catalans, or 43% out of 5.3 million eligible voters, took part in the referendum.
Tuesday's declaration was largely symbolic because it was not formally endorsed by the regional parliament.
"Today I assume the mandate for Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic", he said.
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The standoff between Spain and Catalonia entered a new phase on Tuesday as Catalonia's leader delayed by several weeks a formal declaration of independence from Spain.
The issue has enormous emotional and political resonance in Spain, which spent years confronting a sometimes-bloody Basque separatist movement and views the Catalonia independence bid as something approaching an existential crisis. Outside the EU, Catalonia would lose access to free trade with Spain and other member nations, a massive blow for a region that depends on exports. As Puigdemont arrived this evening, he glanced toward the sky as a Spanish helicopter flew overhead.
He could have declared independence outright. He said he was open to the possibility of worldwide mediation. "With a Spanish state that continues to harass and persecute us?" she said. Pro-unity protesters turned out by the hundreds of thousands over the weekend.
European Union nations are watching developments closely amid concern that any Catalan move to break away from Madrid could put further pressure on the bloc still dealing with the fallout from Britain's shock decision to leave.
Polls indicate that Catalonia's 7.5 million residents are evenly divided over secession, although a majority support holding a referendum on independence authorized by central authorities. "Catalonia is now a European matter". The moves of the firms' bases have not so far affected jobs or investments, but they don't send a message of confidence in the Puigdemont government.
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