However, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemon is not for bending and told supporters the region is on the cusp of sovereignty.
“We must express a clear wish to have a mediation, regardless of the scenario, that the yes prevails or no”, he told AFP.
“I think it’s about democracy and liberty”, Ramon Hernández, 80, said. “If it doesn’t take an interest in what is happening in Catalonia when everyone is watching and taking an interest, there’s something wrong”.
In order to halt the vote, Madrid has increased pressure on Catalan officials over the past week.
There have been 1,300 schools shut down in the area that were earmarked as polling places, and 163 of those schools were occupied by families.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to vote in Sunday’s ballot, which has been declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has stressed several times that the independence referendum would never take place.
Spain has insisted the vote will not go ahead, but separatists in Catalonia have pushed on in defiance.
A government source said police will remove people from polling stations tomorrow, without giving details on how this would be carried out.
Referendum organizers asked voters to turn up at 7 a.m. ahead of the polls opening at 9 a.m.
He also urged the British people to disregard David Cameron’s decision to grant an independence referendum to the Scottish people in 2014, saying it was not comparable to the Spanish government’s decision to block the Catalan vote.
“Let’s be honest about all of this, it’s the financial loss that Spain could endure as a result of Catalonian independence, that’s driving the Government’s hand in all of this”.
The rise of the Catalan separatist movement may be a effect of Rajoy’s party’s hardline policy on the region’s autonomy, the political scientist said.
Spain’s main opposition party, known as Citizens-Party of the Citizenry also rushed to the central government’s help, holding a counter-rally in Barcelona on Friday against Catalonia’s separation from Spain.
“Our hope”, Mitjans argued, “is that the massive presence of people prevents them from sealing off the polling stations”.
Catalans have staged numerous protests and occupied polling stations to secure their right to vote. The government has ordered police and the Guardia Civil, or Spanish Civil Guard, to confiscate all election-related materials, including the actual ballot boxes.
The European Union has ruled out intervening in the political standoff, after Catalan officials this week appealed to the bloc for support.
“They read us out the part of the court order that says no activities related to the preparation of the banned referendum are allowed”.
“Both sides have been very stubborn, the Spanish and the Catalan, and the only victims are going to be us”, Mr. Satue said.
Opinion polls show Catalans are split on the issue of independence, but a large majority want to vote in a legitimate referendum to settle the matter.