The Catalan government accused Madrid of taking “political prisoners” and thousands of protesters gathered along Barcelona’s Diagonal Avenue to call for their release.
Spain’s Rajoy would probably call a snap regional election after activating Article 155 of the constitution that would allow him to sack the Catalan regional government.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont made only a symbolic declaration, claiming a mandate to launch secession but suspending any formal steps to that end.
The EU has shown no interest in an independent Catalonia, despite an appeal by Puigdemont for Brussels to mediate in the crisis.
The Catalan government says more than 90% of people who voted in an October 1 referendum voted in favour of independence from Spain.
Secessionist Catalan politicians have pledged to unilaterally declare independence at Monday’s session after Sunday’s referendum, banned by Madrid.
The court suspended the resolution, approved by the Catalan assembly in October, for five months from now, after which it could be made permanent or lifted.
The referendum poses a new headache for Spain’s acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose conservative People’s Party has repeatedly refused to consider allowing one in Catalonia, which is home to about a sixth of the population.
The rally was scheduled to coincide with Catalonia’s national day ‘La Diada.’