Spain’s Supreme Court will soon decide the fate of twelve Catalan independence leaders who stand accused of sedition and rebellion against the state. The verdict will be hard for Catalans to accept as fair, especially when the same court has sided with the family of Francisco Franco.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court suspended the planned exhumation of the dictator’s remains from the monumental Valley of the Fallen in the mountains near Madrid, arguing it would not be in the “public interest”.
In its verdict, the court used the honorific “don” to refer to Franco and wrote that he was head of state from October 1, 1936. That is when Franco was proclaimed leader of the coup against the Republic, but his government wasn’t recognized as legitimate by most countries until after the Civil War.
Twelve Catalans — ten politicians and two activists — went on trial this week for their role in the 2017 independence referendum and attempted secession from Spain.
There is a good chance the defendants, who include the former Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras — who still leads one of the region’s two largest pro-independence parties — will be found guilty of at least some of the charges against them. The Spanish Constitutional Court had, after all, forbidden the referendum in advance and the Spanish Constitution refers to the country’s “indissoluble” unity.
Hopefully the Supreme Court in Madrid (which is separate from the Constitutional Court) will throw out the more serious — and much harder to prove — accusations of rebellion and sedition, which carry prison sentences of up to 25 years.
But even light sentences would be a tragedy. This trial should never have happened. The 2017 referendum, which most opponents of independence boycotted, should never have happened. The reason it did is that the Spanish government at the time, led by the conservative People’s Party, refused dialogue with an increasingly restless nationalist movement in Catalonia. Read more “Tragedy in Catalonia”
From the opprobrium being heaped on Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez from the right, you would think he had just signed away half the country.
Pablo Casado, the leader of the conservative People’s Party, has accused the socialist of “high treason” and argued Spain now faces the gravest threat to its democracy since the failed military coup of 1981.
Albert Rivera of the liberal Citizens has called Sánchez “a danger for Spain”.
Catalonia has made little progress toward either independence or normalizing relations with the rest of Spain since its failed attempt to break away a year ago.
Spain has returned home rule to the region, which it suspended in the wake of the 2017 referendum, and the new prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, sounds more conciliatory than the last.
But two activists and seven politicians remain in pretrial detention for their role in the 2017 vote, which the Spanish Constitutional Court had ruled illegal. Four have gone on hunger strike to protest the fact that their trial still hasn’t started after one year.
Catalan president Quim Torra has given the Spanish government of Pedro Sánchez an ultimatum: allow the Catalans to exert their right to self-determination (which Spain doesn’t recognize) by November or lose the support of Catalan nationalist parties in Congress.
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez has proposed calling a referendum on a renegotiated statute for Catalan home rule.
In 2010, the Spanish Constitutional Court rewrote parts of Catalonia’s 2006 autonomy statute. Most of the changes were minor, except they limited Catalonia’s fiscal autonomy and took out the description of Catalonia as a “nation”.
As a result, Sánchez said in a radio interview, “Catalonia has a statute that it didn’t vote for.”
Catalan unionists, including the leaders of the region’s largest anti-independence party, Citizens, have taken to the streets to remove yellow ribbons that agitate for the release of separatist leaders.
Some eighty people descended on La Bisbal, a small town close to the French border, last night to remove yellow ribbons from buildings, wearing white industrial suits and masks.
The mayor, Lluís Sais, condemned the action, saying,
When someone has nothing to hide, and has no shame, they do not cover their faces.