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In Deepest Catalonia, Independence Dream Stalls

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A month ago, residents of the Catalan village Dosrius were facing off against police in their struggle to break away from Spain.

Catalan protesters

Now independence has been declared -- but nothing, they feel, has been gained. Indeed, they have probably lost what they had.

Spain's central government has taken control of the region for the first time since the end of dictatorship in the 1970s. Catalonia's separatist leader, facing likely prosecution, has fled to Belgium.

"I feel impotent," says farmer Oscar Jansana, 43, who flies a Catalan independence flag -- red and yellow stripes with a white star -- outside his house in this small valley town north of Barcelona.

He and other separatists want the rich region to have control over its finances. They feel dismayed that in just a few days their independence effort has apparently all but collapsed.

"We have worked hard. We have collaborated as much as we could," said Jansana. "And in the end we have ended up worse off than we were before."

Catalan demands for independence date back centuries but have surged in recent years.

Street rallies for independence have grown since 2010, when the Spanish courts repealed a key statute on the region's autonomy.

Demands for more control over tax revenues swelled during recent years of economic crisis.

"We have been fighting for this for a long time. We have demonstrated, protested and voted many times," said Cristina Carbo, walking her dog near Dosrius's gothic church.

"It seemed as though we had it within reach. But we were not strong enough when faced with a state that holds all the power."

Separatists in 2015 launched a roadmap to form a functioning Catalan state.

But after two years and the past month of bitter tension with Madrid, Catalonia is back under central government control.

For Benet Salellas, spokesman for the far-left separatist party CUP, "the Catalan government was not prepared for a scenario where they would have to do this unilaterally."
The separatists are facing "a reality check," one senior pro-independence association leader told AFP.

"The government of the (Catalan) republic does not have the capacity to take control," said the leader, who asked not to be named.

"We have to examine where we went wrong and explain to people that this will not be easy," he said.

"And that it will be long -- very long."

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team