Jail and execution: Madrid makes veiled threat to Catalan leader by raising predecessor’s fate

Just ahead of a highly anticipated speech in which the Catalan leader is expected to declare the region’s independence from Spain, the Spanish ruling party has resorted to making threatening allusions to a previous independence bid.

“History should not be repeated. Let’s hope that nothing is declared tomorrow because perhaps the one who declares it will end up like the one declared it 83 years ago,” spokesman for Spain’s ruling People's Party (PP) Pablo Casado said on Monday. The statement came less than 24 hours ahead of Carles Puigdemont’s address to the Catalan parliament, where he is widely expected to defy the Madrid authorities and declare the region’s secession from Spain.

READ MORE: Hundreds of thousands rally against Catalan independence in Barcelona (VIDEOS)

Casado was apparently referring to Lluis Companys, president of Catalonia in the 1930s who proclaimed a ‘Catalan State within the Spanish Federal Republic’ in 1934. Companys had to flee after the Spanish Civil War to France, where he was later captured by the Nazis and handed over to Franco's regime. In 1940, Companys was tried for military rebellion and executed.

The comparison that came from a central government official has fueled tensions between Madrid and Barcelona. Casado’s statement drew controversy and condemnation from Spanish and Catalan officials alike.

The leader of the left-wing Podemos party, Pablo Iglesias, accused the PP spokesperson of being “either ignorant or irresponsibly provocative.”

Anther Podemos official, Íñigo Errejón, called on Casado to “rectify immediately this irresponsible barbarism or resign.”

One Catalan MP said they don't need to be reminded of the tragedy.

“Yes, Pablo Casado, we know how our President Companys [regional leader in the 1930s – Ed.] ended up, shot by the army. Does it make you happy to remind our defenseless people of it?" Joan Tardà from Republican Catalan Left party tweeted.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau also said that the spokesman should apologize or resign.

On October 1, over 2 million Catalans, or 90.09 percent of the voters supported the region’s independence, according to local authorities. The referendum is considered illegal by the central government. Spanish law enforcement violently attacked those who came to take part in the referendum.

Puigdemont, alongside other regional and some European officials, condemned the actions of the Spanish authorities on the referendum day, calling it “unjustified, disproportionate and irresponsible violence.”

RT’s Anastasia Churkina spoke to locals in Barcelona to understand what they expect of the regional leader ahead of his remarkable address. People are split over the independence bid, with some noting that it was necessary “to show rebellion.”

“This independence will hurt both Spain and Catalonia. It took many years to make the country whole and to divide it just like that is absurd,” one local man said.

“If the state were intelligent it would negotiate a special agreement with Catalonia so that Catalonia remained inside Spain. But their mentality, ideology and Francoism prevents them from doing it,” another local man told RT.

Meanwhile, the EU, which has been considering the Catalan issue as an internal matter of Spain, repeated its call on the central and regional governments for dialogue and abstaining from violence.

“We called on all those concerned to get of this confrontation as quickly as possible and to start dialogue,” a spokesman for the European Commission said on Tuesday, as cited by Reuters.