President to take down ribbons from government building

The decision follows a recommendation to remove the symbols by the Catalan ombudsman, after the president asked for the institution's opinion

The Catalan government headquarters with a yellow ribbon banner on the facade (by ACN)
The Catalan government headquarters with a yellow ribbon banner on the facade (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 20, 2019 08:53 PM

President Quim Torra released a statement on Wednesday night stating that yellow ribbons would be removed from the facade of the government headquarters in Barcelona and other public buildings under the executive.

This follows a recommendation by the Catalan ombudsman that the symbols be “exceptionally” removed “during the electoral campaign.” This, following a request by President Quim Torra on Tuesday for the institution to weigh in, when he pledged to follow any recommendations given.

“This is a temporary measure,” proclaimed the ombudsman in a statement, which “should only be valid during the electoral period” lasting until the Spanish vote on April 28 (with the last day of campaigns being the 26).

They clarified that “outside of the exceptionality of the electoral period,” it “maintains the same criterion” as shared in September 2018: positioning itself “against limiting the exercise of freedom of expression in a public space.”

Original order given on March 11

The statement comes after the Spanish Electoral Authority ordered all “partisan” symbols (referring to yellow ribbons in support of jailed and exiled pro-independence leaders and the ‘estelada’ Catalan independence flag) be removed from public buildings, following a complaint made by the unionist Cs party.

The Spanish Electoral Authority issued a 48-hour deadline to the president to remove the yellow ribbons from government buildings on March 11, which he ultimately defied. This was then followed by a similar order for the Barcelona mayor Ada Colau to do the same, which was followed, and then a second order to Torra.

On Tuesday, Catalan government spokesperson Elsa Artadi called into question the impartiality of the Electoral Authority, as two of its members are also judges presiding over the so-called Catalan Trial, the legal proceedings against some of the individuals the yellow ribbons stand in solidarity with.