In the name of reconciliation, the Spanish government will pardon the nine Catalan separatist leaders arrested for attempted secession in 2017, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Monday (21) in Barcelona.
“Tomorrow [terça], in the constitutional spirit of concord, I will propose to the Council of Ministers to grant pardon to the condemned, and in a few days they will be free “, declared the Prime Minister at the Teatro Liceo in Barcelona. The separatists had received sentences between 9 and 13 years of arrest in October 2019.
“The fundamental reason for pardons is their usefulness for coexistence,” argued the socialist leader, amid cries from some in the room, asking for an amnesty. Sánchez explained that, “while understanding the reasons for the rejection” of the measure by the most radical separatists and the right-wing opposition, the government “has chosen to pave the way for reconciliation and reunion”. “With this act, we took nine people out of jail, but we symbolically added millions and millions of people to coexistence.”
In front of the theater, hundreds of demonstrators demanded an amnesty, a decision that would involve the erasure of crimes for which separatist leaders have been convicted and which, for the Spanish government, have no place in a democratic government. “What we want is independence, we do not want crumbs or pardons,” ngel Segura, 18, told the news agency.
The Catalan president, the moderate Pere Aragonès, declared that “with this decision, the government corrects an unfair condemnation of the Supreme Court” because “the organization of a referendum cannot be a crime”. In 2019, the court’s ruling sparked mass protests in the region, some of which were violent.
Rejected by the Supreme Court, the pardon also lacks majority support: according to a poll by the Ipsos Institute, 53% of Spanish citizens are against, although 68% of Catalans approve of the measure.
The right-wing accuses Sánchez of having taken this step solely motivated by the desire to remain in power, because his minority government needs the support of independence activists in parliament.