Spanish unionists rally against Catalonia's separatist push

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) " A few thousand people have rallied in Barcelona to protest the regional Catalan government's push to break away from the rest of Spain.

Several protesters carried Spanish flags and signs saying "Stop the Coup" " a reference to the regional government's plan to hold a referendum on independence, which Spain says is unconstitutional.

Jose Domingo of the pro-union Catalan Civil Society group says independence would "only bring disaster."

Separatist sentiment has surged in recent years in Spain's industrialized northeastern region of Catalonia, where the Catalan language is spoken along with Spanish. Polls consistently show the 7.5 million Catalans are equally divided on independence but a majority supports a referendum. The pro-independence camp has mounted huge rallies in recent years.

The Catalan government pledges to hold an independence referendum by September.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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