Jordi Cuixart steps down as president of pro-independence group Òmnium

After 6 years and being imprisoned for the 2017 vote, he is likely to be succeeded by Xavier Antich

Catalan activist Jordi Cuixart on a prison permit (by Àlex Recolons)
Catalan activist Jordi Cuixart on a prison permit (by Àlex Recolons) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 14, 2022 09:23 AM

Jordi Cuixart has announced that he will be stepping down as president of pro-independence civil society organization Òmnium in an interview with Rac1 radio on Friday morning.

It is time for "new leaderhip," he said, referring to society at large and the independence movement in particular.

"Catalan society is capable of creating new leaders. Because of this, we need to make room for them to flourish because that is probably the best thing we can do for the country."

Cuixart has been at the helm of the 61-year-old organization since 2015, holding on to the position while imprisoned from October 2017 to June 2021 for sedition for the referendum deemed illegal by Spain.  

As neither Cuixart nor current vice president Marcel Mauri are standing for re-election, he is likely to be succeeded by Xavier Antich if his candidacy is backed by Òmnium members. "Antich knows Òmnium well," Cuixart said.

Antich, born in 1962 in the Pyrenean town of La Seu d'Urgell, is a writer and professor at the University of Girona who also presides over the Tàpies Foundation cultural center and museum.

Both Cuixart and Mauri have ruled out entering politics. 

Jailed activist

Of the 9 people put behind bars for the 2017 vote, it is the imprisonment of Cuixart – an activist and not a politician – that was seen as one of the most troubling by sympathizers and certain observers.

On September 20, 2017, Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez – who at the time presided over the Catalan National Assembly group and is now a member of the Junts per Catalunya Party – famously stood atop a vandalized Spanish police vehicle to tell the protesters who had gathered outside the Catalan economy department to go home.

Cuixart and Sànchez were accused of instigating the demonstrators and preventing Spanish police officers from being able to leave the building where they were carrying out a raid. 

After being held in pre-trial detention for two years, he was sentenced to 9 years behind bars in a decision that was denounced by the Council of Europe and other rights groups such as Amnesty International or Front Line Defenders for threatening freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.