Catalan government takes office in emotional event, lifting direct rule
Seven months after suspension of self-government, Catalonia has an executive once more
Direct rule in Catalonia is history after 219 days in force. This, as an automatic result of the new Catalan government’s inauguration taking place this Saturday morning. On October 27, the now ousted Spanish government implemented suspension of self-rule following the declaration of independence. After some leaders being sent in prison, others in exile, a Catalan election and five months until a president was appointed, this Saturday a new term starts in Catalonia. But the exceptional circumstances were clear on Saturday with the symbolism in the inauguration, including a yellow ribbon set in the first row of the audience. Yellow has become the color to show solidarity with the leaders in jail and abroad.
But the symbolism and remembrance of the leaders in jail and abroad went further during the event, which was highly emotional. Relatives of some of those leaders read some letters addressed to the Catalan president, including the four ministers who were prevented from being reinstated in May. Some of these relatives were in tears during the event, as some of the newly elected ministers and audience.
Messages from officials in jail and abroad
“Road for an independent Catalonia is a noble, legitimate, democratic, peaceful cause. No prison or unfair judicial case will make me give up,” said jailed and deposed Presidency minister Jordi Turull through his wife.
In a letter read by his sister, ousted Health head Toni Comín said from Brussels that he knew the Puigdemont cabinet could be subject to Spain’s repression. “When appointed, I had the feeling that that would not be just another government, as it had the mandate of the people for Catalonia to become an independent state.”
"We've been imprisoned for having defended legitimate ideas, for having respected the people's mandate"
Meritxell Lluís · Wife of jailed minister Josep Rull reading a message from her husband
"We've been imprisoned for having defended legitimate ideas, for having respected the people's mandate," says jailed and deposed Territory minister Josep Rull through his wife.
"Restitution spirit has triumphed," read Lluís Puig’s daughter. The deposed Culture minister is has been in Brussels for 7 months.
“I ask you to not forget us, I ask you to continue asking for our freedom,” said in a letter former Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell from prison, through her husband.
Torra pledges “construction of independent Republic”
President Torra also made some remarks to the audience. “We assume the commitment to move forward towards the construction of an independent Republic,” he said. Torra also claimed that cabinet will prioritize road to independence, dialogue with Spain, restore laws suspended by Constitutional Court, and social and economic progress.
Torra’s speech came after the Catalan cabinet members took their oaths, which officially meant the lift of direct rule in the country.
Who are the new ministers?
The new government which took office this Saturday is formed of 13 ministers, including six women, making it the most egalitarian ever. Here’s the list of cabinet members who inaugurate this Saturday, with a longer bio in this link:
VICE PRESIDENCY AND ECONOMY: Pere Aragonès, the new Oriol Junqueras
PRESIDENCY & SPOKESPERSON: Elsa Artadi, one of Puigdemont's closest allies
FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Ernest Maragall, former MEP takes Foreign Affairs
HOME AFFAIRS: Miquel Buch, new Home Affairs minister
EDUCATION: Josep Bargalló, back to Education after 15 years
HEALTH: Alba Vergés, Parliament bureau member
TERRITORY AND SUSTAINABILITY: Damià Calvet, big challenges in infraestructures ahead
CULTURE: Laura Borràs, former Institute of Catalan Letters president
JUSTICE: Ester Capella, a feminist lawyer to head Justice
LABOUR & SOCIAL AFFAIRS: Chakir El Homrani, a union leader
BUSINESS: Àngels Chacón, expert in international trade
GOVERNANCE AND DIGITAL POLICY: Jordi Puigneró, new minister of Governance and Digital Policy
AGRICULTURE: Teresa Jordà, from the Spanish Congress to the ministry of Agriculture