CATALONIA erupted into chaos today amid calls for immediate independence after Spain announced it would begin the implementation of Article 155.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Cabinet in Spain met this morning to agree to roll out hardline rules to penalise the breakaway region and impose direct rule.
Elections could be held in just six months as the government seeks to oust all those involved in the “illegal” referendum - including Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont who could even face jail for his role in the crisis.
But now Catalonia has hit back over his stinging rant, as calls for immediate independence erupt among fierce secessionists.
Supporters of independence had already called a demonstration in Barcelona this afternoon to protest the arrests of two Catalan activists accused of sedition.
However, the event has now changed its focus and is directing its anger at Madrid for triggering of Article 155.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets with cries of “independence” or “TV3 will always be ours” after the government took control of the Catalan broadcasting company - akin to Britain’s BBC.
Dozens of coaches have flocked from different parts of Catalonia to the 450,000-strong demonstration, demanding the region’s freedom and insisting on the release of Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart.
Outraged campaigners have also lashed out at the Spanish government for denying them their voice following the vote on October 1.
Oriol Junqueras, the Catalan vice-president, accused the government of “totalitarianism”.
And a spokesman for the left-wing Podemos party claimed that Rajoy wanted to “humiliate” Catalonia.
Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau called the move “an attack on everyone’s rights and freedoms”.
And Pablo Echenique, a spokesman for Podemos, tweeted: “The most corrupt party in Europe, which has 8.5% of the vote in Catalonia and is going to govern it. A terrible day for any democrat.”
Maria Rosa Bertran said that "once again we have taken to the streets as an active, non-violent society”.
And the Barcelona insisted Catalans are committed to "respond in a coordinated and continuous way before any action that violates human rights and freedoms fundamental of Catalonia."
Rajoy could have avoided all this by talking to the Catalan government months ago, but now the Catalans will refuse to back down.