'Our institutions continue to be attacked': President's execution at hands of Franco remembered

Parties say 'repression' continues 81 years after Lluís Companys’ murder as officials' assets to be seized

Catalan government during the floral tribute to executed president Lluís Companys on October 15, 2021 (Blanca Blay)
Catalan government during the floral tribute to executed president Lluís Companys on October 15, 2021 (Blanca Blay) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 15, 2021 12:58 PM

"Our institutions continue to be attacked." This is what the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, said during the floral tribute to one of his predecessors, Lluís Companys, who was executed by Dictator Francisco Franco's regime exactly 81 years ago.Check out this explainer for full details on his life and death.

The current head of government said the "underlying reasons" that led fascism to arrest Companys when he was in exile in France and murder him in Barcelona on October 15, 1940 are the same that now make Spain exhibit "repression" against Catalonia: destroying self-rule and its people's wishes for "full freedom."

Aragonès' cabinet took part in the events commemorating the murdered leader in the Catalan capital's Montjuïc cemetery, close to where he was killed by a firing squad, in Monjuïc Castle's Santa Eulàlia moat.

Companys' remains lie at Fossar de la Pedrera, a memorial space inside the Montjuïc cemetery dedicated to victims of fascist repression and Civil War-era bombings.

Officials' assets to be seized imminently 

During the event on Friday, Aragonès said the decision of the Spanish Court of Auditors to seize the assets of 28 former Catalan officials is an example of the "repression" that still continues to this day. The 28 individuals are accused of carrying out foreign action from 2011 to 2017 allegedly linked to the independence campaign and have been requested to pay a provisional €5.4 million fine until the accounting body has a final say on the matter.

The Catalan Public Finance Institute had put up a guarantee to prevent them from having to face the fee, but the Court of Auditors rejected the move on Thursday and ordered their assets to be seized. The private guarantees of another six former officials who have been accused of illicitly promoting independence abroad were accepted.

The current president urged Spain to pass an amnesty law to stop all legal proceedings stemming from the independence push in the 2010s.

'Repression continues alive'

Aragonès was not the only one to link Companys' murder to the recent Court of Auditors decision. Parliament speaker Laura Borràs said that Spain insists on "not wanting to apply the rule of law."

"Repression continues alive," she added.

The three main pro-independence parties agreed with Aragonès and Borràs. Esquerra's president, Oriol Junqueras, one of the officials whose assets are expected to be seized soon, said "repression never stops," referring to both Companys' death and the Court of Auditors decision.

The pardoned leader said that he and his family will face the imminent new situation "with the same dignity and bravery as prison."

"Spain continues to have a thirst for revenge by seeking the civil death of some 30 people," said Jordi Sànchez, secretary-general for Junts, who was also imprisoned and then pardoned last June.

He recalled how Companys was handed over by the German Gestapo police but added that this situation is now different, because Europe "is not extraditing presidents in exile to allow Spain’s justice system to decide their fate," he added, referring to former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his failed extradition attempts.

According to far-left CUP, the best way to honor the republicans who lost the Civil War in 1939 to the fascists is to continue their struggle.

"We are here to support those who fought until death for freedom," said MP Carles Riera.

Grassroots pro-independence organizations ANC and Òmnium also made reference to the Court of Auditors, which they claimed to be heir to Francoist institutions.

Spanish government parties also attend tribute to Companys

The Spanish government’s two coalition parties were the only ones against independence to attend the tribute.

En Comú Podem's Jaume Asens said that they will promote "an in-depth reform" of the accounting institution – indeed, its members' mandate expired three months ago. The Socialists and the People's Party agreed on Thursday to renew the Court of Auditors' leadership positions.

As for the Socialists, their leader in Catalonia, Salvador Illa, said he believed the Catalan government guarantee was legal, but also called for the institution's decision to reject it to be respected.

"Today we remember the past with the commitment to look ahead," he also said.