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Catalan and Spanish governments exchange criticism following this week's turmoil

Barcelona denounces Madrid's "inaction" and calls for dialogue while Madrid counters that Catalan president must unequivocally condemn violence

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20 October 2019 03:37 PM

by

ACN|Barcelona

The Catalan and Spanish governments have found themselves in a battle of words today, with the Catalan government criticizing the one for its "inaction" and its "failure to perform its functions."

Barcelona has called on Madrid to realize "once and for all" that "political negotiation and dialogue" is needed to solve the conflict that has erupted in Catalonia following the sentencing of 9 independence leaders to up to 13 years in prison.

Catalan president Quim Torra has attempted to call Spain's acting president Pedro Sánchez multiple times on Saturday and Sunday to discuss the matter but has been unable to speak to Sánchez.

The Spanish government, on the other hand, has insisted that in order to discuss this week's tense events, Torra must unequivocally condemn the violence that has taken place throughout Catalonia this week leaving 579 injured and 14 hospitalized.

Spain's interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, also insisted that Torra had to express sympathy for the injured police officers, while Catalonia's health minister Alba Vergés claimed that Marlaska himself was "only being concerned about some of those who have been injured, the police officers."

Marlaska went on to say that "nobody" in Catalonia, Spain, or abroad can understand why Torra has "still" not condemned this week's violence, and although Torra already claimed a few days ago that "violence does not represent us" in reference to the independence movement, the Spanish government has asked for a stronger denunciation.

On Saturday, Torra shared a letter he wrote to Sánchez, in which he stressed that the Spanish president did not have to give him lessons on "condemning and fighting against violence." 

"I, as has been the case of the independence movement for all these years, have always fought against and condemned violence," the Catalan president claimed. 

Also on Saturday, at a press conference with Catalan vice president Pere Aragonès and the mayors of Girona, Lleida and Tarragona, Torra stated that "the defense of rights and freedoms must be expressed, as always, peacefully. We ask that everyone do so in this manner. Violence has never been and will never be our flag in Barcelona, Tarragona, Girona or Lleida or in any of our territory's 947 municipalities. We are making a joint call to responsibility at the next protests in the name of all mayors. No form of violence represents us.

On Sunday, Torra also expressed concern for a police officer and a young woman that remain in a critical condition as a result of injuries sustained at protests: "I am in permanent contact with the Catalan health minister about the situation of those injured in incidents that took place on the street. I am very worried about the situation of a young woman at Vall d'Hebron hospital and of the police officer at Sant Pau hospital. I hope for their speedy recovery and send my support to their families." 

The Spanish interior minister has also described the unrest in Catalonia as "strictly a public order problem," and not a political problem. Marlaska cited 288 injured police officers, 194 arrests, and 18 sent to prison.

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  • Spanish president Pedro Sánchez at a press conference on October 18, 2019 (by Nazaret Romero)

  • Spanish president Pedro Sánchez at a press conference on October 18, 2019 (by Nazaret Romero)

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