Three former Catalan presidents 'victims of reprisal' call for international mediation
Artur Mas, Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra "skeptical" of dialogue space with Spain on independence issue
The three last Catalan presidents gathered in a rare event in Perpignan, in North Catalonia – the Catalan-speaking strip administratively in southern France – to demand an international mediation on the independence issue.
Artur Mas, Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra were all prosecuted – and two of them convicted – for their role in the push for a divorce with Spain over the past decade.
Mas was barred from public office for a year and a month when he was no longer president for having organized an unofficial independence vote in 2014.
Puigdemont is facing a criminal procedure for leading the 2017 referendum, but he has not been convicted – like nine of his former ministers, who are serving 9 to 13 years in jail each – because he went into exile in 2017 shortly after the declaration of independence, when he was ousted from power.
Spain has so far been unable to extradite him from Belgium, although they have tried three times.
Torra was given an 18-month ban from office last month for failing to remove signs in favor of the jailed leaders from public buildings by a given deadline during the 2019 electoral period.
Subsequently, he was ousted from power in late September, becoming the first Catalan president in modern times to have been banned while still in office.
In a joint press conference, all three said they are "members of the party of victims of reprisal."
Reading a manifesto, they also called on international support and mediation: "The Europe of human rights is incompatible with a country that devotes itself to repression."
They considered their situation as part of the "political persecution" against the pro-independence camp.
The three former leaders have also been "skeptical" of the Catalonia-Spain space of dialogue set up in February, just before Covid-19, in an effort to find a way out of the independence issue.
"In order to solve the real problem, self-determination must be exercised, and this seems to be very far away," said Mas.
"Catalonia has less resources and self-rule than before the talks launched," added Puigdemont.
The exiled leader also referred to the King of Spain's visit on Friday, just a while before the event in Perpignan.
"In Felipe’s six years as monarch, all Catalan presidents have been barred from office or removed from power."