Fresh clashes in Catalonia as Pro-Independence leaders are jailed
Photo courtesy of Òmnium Cultural via Wikicommons
by Derek Gardiner
Catalonia had been plunged into another crises in the last week, with a general strike announced and marches in Barcelona, and with an estimated 500,000 participants. 62 people were injured and 17 arrested as of Friday. The demonstrations caused major disruptions with traffic stopped along the France-Spain border and over 100 flights cancelled.
The current President of the region has announced plans to hold a new referendum on independence for the region within the next two years. This comes after 12 Catalan Separatist leaders, who were involved in organising the 2017 protests were found guilty of sedition and sentenced to between 9 and 13 years in prison. They were cleared of the more serious charge of rebellion. The sentences caused an immediate backlash by protestors against the Spanish government.
The Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made clear that he did not intend to offer pardons to those imprisoned and said his government would ensure the “complete fulfilment” of the sentences. He added “The government of Spain will work in the coming days toward guaranteeing public order and protecting our democratic laws as it has always done.”
The Catalan President Quim Torra said that the imprisonment of the leaders would not cause the Catalan government to change its policy on calling another Independence referendum within two years saying that "We'll return to the ballot box again on self-determination. If all parties and groups make it possible, we have to be able to finish this legislative term by validating independence,"
The Spanish Government continues to refuse to allow a legally binding referendum on Catalan independence on the basis that the Spanish constitution states that the Spanish Union is “Indivisible” and the 2017 referendum was illegal. The former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, whose government held the 2017 referendum and then attempted a unilateral declaration of independence remains in exile in Belgium ad would be arrested if he returned to Spain.
The unrest continues and it seems unlikely both parties will come to a conclusion any time soon.