Rows of empty chairs with drawings of ousted Catalan regional government members including former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont are seen placed before a rally in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain, Monday Oct. 1, 2018. Sant Julia de Ramis is the northern town where anti-riot police used force one year ago to enter a school-turned-polling station, injuring hundreds on the morning of Oct. 1, 2017 as a banned referendum crushed by police failed to deliver an independent state.(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

The Latest: Puigdemont urges unity in Catalan action

October 01, 2018 - 1:55 am

GIRONA, Spain (AP) — The Latest on independence protests in Catalonia (all times local):

10:55 a.m.

Separatist leader Carles Puigdemont says people in Catalonia should remain united in their goal to break away from Spain, one year after a crushed secession referendum in the prosperous region.

"Let us not stray from the only possible way to live in a full democracy: the (Catalan) Republic and its international recognition," Puigdemont said in a video message shared on social media.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium days after an independence declaration was passed in the regional Catalan parliament in late October last year. He has since then turned a Spanish Supreme Court prosecution against him into a platform for advocating for self-determination rights in Europe.

He fought off extradition from Germany, where he spent weeks in prison, and Belgium.

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9:10 a.m.

Catalonia's regional government has returned to a school in northern Catalonia where police stormed in to bar people from voting in a banned independence referendum one year ago.

Student strikes, emotional speeches and mass demonstrations are planned to commemorate Monday the vote that caused Spain's gravest political crisis in decades.

In Sant Julia de Ramis, the northern town where Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was scheduled to vote on the morning of Oct. 1, 2017, the regional separatist authorities are addressing supporters with a banner reading "We won't forget, nor will we pardon" behind them.

A year ago, anti-riot police entered the school-turned-polling station, injuring hundreds in front of cameras broadcasting the incidents live.

Puigdemont who ended up voting in another polling station, is now sought in Spain under preliminary charges of rebellion. He has so far fought off extradition to Spain from both Germany and Belgium.

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8:30 a.m.

Activists advocating for Catalonia's secession from Spain are blocking major highways, train lines and avenues across the northeastern region, one year after a banned referendum crushed by police failed to deliver an independent state.

Monday's protests have been called on online messaging apps by the Committees for the Defense of the Republic, local activist groups that emerged after the Oct. 1, 2017, unauthorized vote.

In Girona, north of Barcelona, hundreds of activists occupied the high-speed railway tracks, while regional police tried to stop more protesters from entering the area of the station.

Local media also reported road blockages on the AP-7 highway, the main artery along eastern Catalonia leading to the French border, and in central streets of the cities of Lleida and Barcelona, the regional capital.