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Spain's Highest Court Stops Catalonia Independence Bid

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy listens to a question during a news conference at the Moncloa Palace, the premier's official residence, in Madrid, Nov. 11, 2015.

Spain's highest court Wednesday halted, for now, the independence bid by the northeastern Catalonia region.

The Constitutional Court unanimously agreed to take up the Spanish federal government's legal challenge against secession.

Catalonia's parliament passed a resolution Monday to begin the processes of declaring independence, including putting together a new constitution and tax collection system. Supporters hope to form a separate nation by mid-2017.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy angrily said Catalonian lawmakers are trying to destroy 500 years of Spanish heritage.

"We're talking about the defense of an entire nation. They are trying to liquidate the unity of a nation with more than five centuries of history.

Despite Wednesday's court ruling, Catalan Vice President Neus Munte promised to go ahead with the push for independence.

"The political will of the government of Catalonia is to go ahead with the content of the resolution approved Monday by the Catalan parliament."

Catalonia is an autonomous region of 7.5 million people and is responsible for generating about 20 percent of the Spanish economy.

The independence movement there is more than a century old, but gained momentum several years ago with Spain's economic crisis.

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