This week’s trial over the 9-N symbolic vote on independence, which took place in 2014 and registered a turnout of more than 2.3 million people, was the focus of Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont’s first intervention in this Wednesday’s plenary session. ‘Spanish democracy has gotten sick’ stated Puigdemont before the Parliament and accused the Spanish State of taking former Catalan President, Artur Mas and former Catalan Minsters, Irene Rigau and Joana Ortega before the court in what he considered ‘a political trial’ and of doing so ‘without blushing’. According to Puigdemont, Mas, Rigau and Ortega ‘are guilty of believing in the Parliament and listening to the citizens’ when allowing the non-binding consultation, while the Public Prosecutor accuses them of disobedience and breach of trust for allegedly ignoring a ban from the Spanish Constitutional Court on this matter. Puigdemont also doubted whether this ‘sick democracy’ could be ‘treated with threats’, in relation to the warnings of the Spanish state to stop Catalonia’s pro-independence aspirations.

Puigdemont lamented the repeated legal and dialectical attacks on some Catalan politicians in relation to the 9-N, the upcoming referendum and the pro-independence roadmap, amongst others, and compared them with the ‘impunity’ with which recent events such as former Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Diaz’s smear conspiracy against pro-independence parties seem to be tolerated. In this vein, he also criticised some statements made by politicians, such as those of the People’s Party’s leader in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol, who compared Catalonia’s pro-independence aspirations with Nazism. He also remembered that former Spanish leaders wrote articles ‘recommending’ Mas’ execution by firing squad.

All these factors reached their highest point, according to Puigdemont, with the trial against Mas, Rigau and Ortega and proved that ‘Spanish democracy has a structural problem which dates back to Spain’s Transition’. Puigdemont pointed out that the period which followed the death of Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco, ‘wasn’t properly ascertained’.

During his speech, the Catalan President lamented that ‘Spanish democracy can’t afford the luxury of carrying out a political trial without blushing or asking themselves what an important part of the international public opinion is already wondering’.

Puigdemont also defended Mas, Ortega and Rigau, who are accused of disobedience and breach of trust for allowing the non-binding consultation and allegedly ignoring a ban from the Spanish Constitutional Court on this matter. ‘They are guilty of believing in the Parliament and believing in democracy’, said Puigdemont and added that ‘the first thing’ to do in a democracy is ‘listen to the citizens who make it possible’.

Spain responds with ‘trials and threats’ rather than willingness to dialogue
‘We have repeatedly confirmed that a wide majority wants to decide their political future through the ballot boxes’ continued Puigdemont but pointed out that the Spanish Government hasn’t responded to this demand. ‘No dialogue, no agreement, no proposals: only trials and threats’, he lamented. ‘Refusing to talk is not only a mistake but irresponsible’, he said. In this vein, the Catalan President criticised Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy’s willingness to dialogue with US President, Donald Trump and other leaders in Europe and Latin America but not with Catalonia.

‘If he sees himself able to dialogue with Trump and all he represents’ he should have an even greater interest in ‘dialoguing with Catalonia’.

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