Critics call Puigdemont's 'skepticism' over Catalan-Spanish talks 'irresponsible'
Parties signed up to bilateral summit also reject former minister Ponsatí's accusation that dialogue between governments is a "con"
For some in the independence movement the talks between the Catalan and Spanish governments that began last week potentially offer a way to finding an agreed solution to the political conflict that began with the referendum in Catalonia in 2017.
Yet, some of the leading figures in favor of Catalonia splitting from Spain have expressed skepticism over the talks agreed between Spain's ruling Socialist party, its coalition partner Podemos, and the pro-independence ERC party.
Among them is Clara Ponsatí, a Catalan minister during the 2017 independence bid and now an MEP in political exile in Scotland. At a pro-independence rally in Perpignan on Saturday, she warned some 100,000 supporters that the talks are a "con."
Her fellow MEP, the exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who also spoke at the rally, appears to share her skepticism, telling the Catalunya Ràdio station on Monday morning that "'sit and talk' cannot become 'wait and see'."
Puigdemont warned about "raising false expectations" and about putting too much faith in the talks: "For the moment that's not useful because I don't believe any agreement has been reached. For the moment. And so we have the duty to be hopeful but also skeptical."
"There is no alternative to dialogue"
The skepticism drew a quick response from Jéssica Albiach, the head of Catalunya en Comú (CatComú), Podemos' Catalan affiliate, who insisted that there is "no alternative" to the bilateral talks, and that the "con" would be to persist with "failed" strategies.
CatComú's spokesman, Joan Mena, also defended the talks, calling on Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya party (JxCat) to "clarify whether it is committed to dialogue or not" and insisting that "either you are with the talks or you are with the enemies of the talks."
Meanwhile, Marta Vilalta, the deputy general secretary of ERC, the party that struck the deal to use its votes in congress to let Pedro Sánchez become Spanish president in exchange for negotiations, said that refusing the talks would be "irresponsible."
"It'd be irresponsible to refuse dialogue, just as it'd be irresponsible to abandon the social force, the mobilizing force, of our political movement, of our independence movement," said Vilalta, who said favoring protest over dialogue or vice versa would be "a mistake."
As for the Socialists, Eva Granados, the first vice secretary of PSC, the Catalan branch of the party, criticized Puigdemont for "hyperventilating" his supporters on Saturday, adding: "Wanting the dialogue to fail is an act of irresponsibility."