Despite long-standing assurances from the State Department that the U.S. would take no stance on the upcoming Catalonia referendum, President Trump couldn't help himself while hosting Spain's Prime Minister, loudly endorsing Spanish unity.
Demonstrators carried pro-independence flags and signs calling for the October 1 vote that the Spanish government calls illegal and has pledged to stop. Should the vote take place, a "yes" vote is likely, given that most of the 40 percent of Catalans who polls show support independence are expected to cast ballots while most of those against it are not.
The Spanish prime minister asked Catalan officials to return to "common sense" while Trump dubbed any attempts to separate from Spain as a foolish step.
People who favour independence say Catalonia, which has its own language and culture, is a "nation" - not a "nationality" as recognised by the Spanish constitution - and that as such they should be allowed to have their own state. Millo said he would "keep hoping until the last minute that the Catalan government has a change of heart and calls off the referendum".
The remarks of the two USA spokeswomen come as Spanish courts have declared the referendum mandating secession illegal.
"If the outcome is a "yes" vote and a unilateral declaration of independence follows, the destabilising effect on the economies of Catalonia and Spain could be very large".
Catalonia on streets after Spain's arrests
A spokesman for Junqueras confirmed the arrest and said that other Catalan government premises were being searched by the agents. The measure came amid rising tension between Spanish and Catalan authorities over the planned October 1 ballot.
A Catalan vote for independence could send the euro plunging, as the risk of Spain breaking up and splitting the eurozone grows.
"We will let the government and the people there work it out, and we will work with whatever government or entity that comes out of it", Nauert said.
The officials said Catalonia lacked a proper election commission, ballot boxes, ballot papers, a transparent census and election material, and other material needed to hold the vote.
Many had not yet received information about where or when they would be working after the state-run postal service was ordered to stop all mail related to the vote, a parliamentary spokeswoman for one separatist party said.
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.