‘They want us to change our ideals,’ says jailed Catalan activist
In New York Times interview, Jordi Cuixart speaks from prison and says Spain will have to ‘reflect’ and ask what to do with him
The jailed Catalan leader Jordi Cuixart has said in an interview with the New York Times that Spanish authorities "want us to change our ideals," in reference to activists and politicians prosecuted for leading an independence bid.
In an interview from the Lledoners penitentiary, where he’s serving a 9-year sentence, Cuixart said: “At some point, Spain is going to have to reflect and ask themselves: What are they going to do with me? Eliminate me? They can’t.”
Cuixart is the president of Òmnium Cultural, an organization promoting Catalan language and literature, which over the past decade has become one of the biggest grassroots groups pushing for independence from Spain.
The article, published on the front page of Tuesday’s paper edition, ran with the headline ‘Separatists a headache for Spain, even from jail’, and explores the political dilemma of keeping people convicted of sedition in prison, who human rights groups say are being held for voicing and acting on their political views.
"At some point, Spain is going to have to reflect and ask themselves: What are they going to do with me?"
Jordi Cuixart · Jailed Catalan leader
"For the Spanish government — and for Europe as a whole — they have also become a diplomatic headache, raising accusations of hypocrisy against a region known for demanding greater democratic freedoms around the world," reads the article.
The article goes on to mention Russia’s references to the imprisonment of pro-independence leaders to deflect calls from Europe for the release of the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, and the United States listing Cuixart and his jailed colleagues in its human rights report on Spain, calling their detention a form of political intimidation.
The reporter also spoke with voices critical of Cuixart and the independence movement, such as Spain’s foreign minister, Arancha González Laya, who says the situation in Catalonia brought painful memories of other independence movements, like the killings by the Basque terrorist group ETA.
“They aren’t political prisoners. These are politicians that have broken the law,” said González Laya. “The question is, do you have the ability to express a different opinion in Spain? Answer: Yes. Do you have the right to unilaterally decide that you break up the country? No,” she added.