Readers share a report: Lawmakers in Catalonia have declared independence from Spain in a historic vote that prompted protests and celebration. The government in Madrid, vowing to halt any would-be secession, has authorized the Spanish prime minister to take over direct rule of the previously semi-autonomous region. The vote in the Catalan Parliament comes nearly a month after the region held a referendum on independence, over Spain's objections. The regional president then declared his support for separation from Spain but also called for talks with Madrid, in an ambiguous speech. Spain's central government, promising to crack down harshly if the declaration was real, told the region's leaders to make up their mind: Yes or no? Independence or not? Now it's final: Independence, Catalonia said.