"I really think the people of Catalonia would stay with Spain".
With five days to go until the October 1 vote, the clash between Catalonia's pro-separatist government and Madrid is increasingly being played out in the arena of logistics and worldwide opinion. The court suspended a referendum law that the Catalan parliament passed on September 6 to map out a potential transition to independence.
President Trump's decision to chime in reflects the largely anti-secessionist views across the West right now, with many nations fearing they'd face similar votes if Catalonia succeeded.
Speaking in the Spanish Congress, Saenz de Santamaria said that the Catalan Regional Assembly "wanted to end with decades of democratic stability" in Spain.
The ministry had announced earlier in the day it would begin co-ordinating all police efforts in Catalonia to crack down on preparations for the vote, including sending direct orders to the Mossos, as the north-eastern region's largest police force are often called.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said the referendum is against the law and the constitutional court has ordered it be halted while its legality is determined.
And police have seized close to ten million ballot papers, as well as other items destined for the vote.
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Although Catalonia enjoys a certain measure of autonomy, separtists have long campaigned for independence for a wealthy region with its own language and cultural traditions.
He accused Madrid of imposing a "de facto" state of emergency to stop the referendum.
Acting on judge's orders, the Guardia Civil has been tasked with confiscating all referendum-related material in Catalonia, including websites deemed to incite the separatist poll.
However, the Catalan government maintained on Tuesday that the vote would still take place.
Political analysts and most politicians believe the standoff could be resolved by a renewed dialogue between Catalan and Spanish authorities that would lead to a better tax deal and increased infrastructure spending for the region.
It has sent out notifications to people planning to man polling booths spread across the region, the parliamentary spokeswoman for the separatist Junts pel Si party said on Tuesday.