Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Sunday spoke following the banned Catalan independence referendum on a day marked by violence which the Catalonia regional government said left 761 people injured.
Rajoy said he wanted to speak as “Prime Minister of Spain, a great nation,” adding that in the face of a vote which had been deemed illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court that “my first obligation was to obey the law and to make sure it was obeyed,” Xinhua reported.
The Prime Minister said there was “was no referendum” and that “our state maintains its strength and reacts and acts with all its resources against any kind of provocation.”
Despite the number of injured, Rajoy insisted the security forces had acted with “firmness and serenity.”
He said the referendum had produced “attitudes that should be repugnant to anyone who believes in democracy,” and blamed Catalan leaders for the violence.
“I want to make it clear that the only people who are responsible are those who have venerated the law,” said Rajoy, who insisted his government had “done what we had to do.”
“We are the government of Spain and I am the Prime Minister of Spain. We acted with the law and only with the law and showed our democratic state has the resources to react to this attack on our unity.”
Sociality Party leader Pedro Sanchez blamed both Rajoy and Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont for what he described as a “sad day for democracy”. Sanchez said the images of the police baton charges and the injured “cannot please any democrat” and made his “disapproval of the police charges.”
Podemos leader Pable Iglesias meanwhile was strongly critical of Rajoy accusing him and his Peoples Party of “doing irreparable damage; not just to Catalonia, but also to Spain.”
Iglesias also strongly criticized the use of rubber bullets by police in a region where they had been banned since 2012.