Nearly half a million protesters poured onto the streets of Barcelona today as Spain's Prime Minister outlined plans to impose direct rule over Catalonia and remove its leaders.
Mariano Rajoy wants to sack the region's government and call an election within six months in a bid to thwart a break away by the autonomous region.
But his strong stance, which includes a threat to arrest the region's president if he declares independence, led to Catalan President Carles Puigdemont accusing the Spanish leader of the worst attack on the region 'since Franco'.
Mentioning Spain's notorious fascist dictator, Mr Puigdemont branded the Spanish government's plans an 'attack on democracy' and accused Mr Rajoy of seeking to 'humiliate' Catalonia.
Catalans cannot accept the 'illegal' measures taken by the Spanish government, calling them 'the worst attack against the institutions and the people of Catalonia since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco.'