Catalan president alludes to Puigdemont cabinet in MWC speech: ‘They can’t be here with us’
King Felipe VI defends Spain as a "full democracy" during Mobile World Congress inaugural dinner
Catalan president Quim Torra has alluded to his predecessor Carles Puigdemont, as well as the former ministers prosecuted for declaring independence, speaking in the inaugural dinner of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s largest fair of the mobile industry.
"Two years ago, it was president Puigdemont who gave you the welcome speech," said Torra on Sunday. "Therefore I’d like to remember him and the members of his government that can’t be with us today."
While Puigdemont and some of his ministers went into exile after declaring independence from Spain in 2017, others stayed and are currently facing trial in Spain’s Supreme Court, with proposed prison sentences of up to 25 years.
"Catalonia is a place where we love democracy above all"
Quim Torra · Catalan president
Torra was sworn in as head of government after Spanish courts prevented from Puigdemont from reclaiming his post at a distance, and has long maintained that the exiled leader is the legitimate president of Catalonia.
While Torra has always been very vocal in defending Catalan independence and denouncing what he describes as Spain’s repressive measures to stop it, his speech at the MWC was seemingly vague and made no direct mention to the independence bid.
"Catalonia is a place where we love democracy above all, and the defense of human rights and civil and collective rights have always been a constant struggle for the Catalan people. It has been so in the past and it has been today. And it will continue to be in the future,” he said.
King defends Spain as a "full democracy"
Torra spoke in the presence of Spain’s king Felipe VI, a highly unpopular figure in Catalonia, whose presence in Barcelona sparked protests.
Just like Torra, Felipe VI made no direct mention to the political conflict over the independence bid, and only highlighted Spain’s strengths as a democracy.
“Spain has become in its own right one of the world’s 20 internationally recognized full democracies,” he said. “And our democracy has achieved in real terms the highest level of prosperity and well-being for our country in the whole of its history. Today, Spain enjoys strong institutions.”