Jailed activist leader asks for meeting with Pedro Sánchez

Acting Spanish president refuses Jordi Cuixart's request, arguing Constitution does not include "right to self-determination"

Jordi Cuixart, president of Òmnium Cultural, appears on screen in a public viewing of the defendants closing remarks during the Catalan Trial. (Photo: Bernat Vilaró)
Jordi Cuixart, president of Òmnium Cultural, appears on screen in a public viewing of the defendants closing remarks during the Catalan Trial. (Photo: Bernat Vilaró) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 6, 2019 11:35 AM

The jailed head of the Òmnium Cultural pro-independence organization, Jordi Cuixart, has asked acting Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, for a meeting, and for his group to be part of the talks the Socialists are holding in their efforts to form a new government.

Cuixart sent his request in a letter from Lledoners prison, where he is being held in custody awaiting a verdict in the trial of Catalan politicians and activists accused of rebellion for staging the independence bid in the fall of 2017.

In his letter, Cuixart reminds Sánchez that Òmnium is Spain's "largest cultural civic organization", with 175,000 members, and says he wants to talk to the Socialist leader to explain his closing comments in court in which he said he would do the same thing again.

According to Cuixart, his statement, "We will do it again," was meant as "a reaffirmation of the defense of fundamental rights and the right to defend the right to self-determination on the part of the public."

Also in the letter, the activist leader says he is "convinced" that "the democratic resolution to the conflict [between Catalonia and Spain] lies in empathy and to thus defeat fear with dialogue," adding: "We have the responsibility to talk with everyone."

Sánchez refuses to meet Cuixart

Later on Tuesday, Sánchez turned down Cuixart's request to meet, insisting that dialogue "can only take place within the framework of the Constitution," and adding that the right to self-determination "does not exist" in the Spanish magna carta.

Government sources also said that self-determination is only foreseen by international organizations for "countries in a process of decolonization," and pointed out that Sánchez aims to form a progressive government "that does not depend on pro-independence parties."

Meanwhile, the acting spokeswoman for the Spanish government, Isabel Celáa, ruled out including Òmnium Cultural in the round of talks taking place with feminist, environmental and educational organizations as part of the efforts to form a government.

According to Celáa, Òmnium "has no connection" with the meetings taking place, which are with organizations that represent areas of priority for the Socialist Party should Sánchez succeed in gaining enough support in congress to be elected president.

Unionist Cs opposes the meeting

Regarding Cuixart's letter, the unionist Ciutadans Party (Cs) wasted no time in expressing its opposition to such a meeting, with Cs spokesman, Nacho Martín Blanco, accusing the Òmnium head of having a "non-inclusive vision" of Catalonia.

Talking on Catalan radio on Tuesday, Blanco blamed Cuixart and his group for the "undemocratic behavior" represented by the unilateral referendum in October 2017 and the declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament that followed.

The spokesman said his party is against the meeting, while acknowledging that the decision lay with Sánchez, who he said had "a project for Spain that is not consistent with the idea of a country of free and equal citizens," meaning Cs cannot support his bid to be president.