‘We live in a state where legitimate ideas are persecuted,’ says Puigdemont
Parties tribute former Catalan president on Christmas day with notable absences
Catalan politics does not rest even on December 25. The Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, took part in a tribute to Francesc Macià, one of his predecessors, who died on Christmas day in 1933, after having declared the Catalan republic in April 1931. “We live in a state where legitimate ideas are persecuted,” said Puigdemont in a letter read by one of his party’s officials. The Catalan president, deposed by the Spanish government and living now in Brussels, recalled that Francesc Macià “also suffered persecution and exile.”
Puigdemont also said that this is a Christmas day under “difficult circumstances,” because he and four other Catalan government members are in Brussels, while four pro-independence leaders are in jails in the Madrid region, 700km far from home, including the Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras. In fact, the Catalan parliament president, Carme Forcadell, also recalled the jailed officials. “Have a nice Christmas day. Today our hearts are also with Oriol, Quim and the ‘Jordis’, who continue unfairly jailed and will spend the day far from their relatives,” she said referring to the four incarcerated leaders.
Indeed, the fact that there are pro-independence politicians behind bars was the reason for much criticism of the Spanish king’s speech on Christmas Eve. Felipe said that Christmas Day is a moment of “family meetings.” Josep Rull, the deposed Catalan Territory minister, who spent 32 days in prison, responded to this remark. “The fact that Felipe VI talks about Christmas as a family meetings day and that he tells us, Catalans, with four innocents in prison and five in exile, is a sarcasm.”
But not everyone criticized the king’s speech. Albert Rivera, the leader of Ciutadans, the unionist party who won the Catalan election last Thursday, defended Felipe’s words regarding the Catalan situation. “The king’s speech represents us: we are proud of our democracy,” he said.