Protests greet conference by Spanish president announcing pardons for jailed Catalan leaders
Pro-independence groups call demonstrations ahead of Pedro Sánchez’s speech in Barcelona’s Liceu opera house
Some pro-independence groups have urged their followers to demonstrate in the center of Barcelona on Monday morning to protest a high-stakes conference held by Spain’s president Pedro Sánchez in the Liceu opera house, where he is due to announce the controversial pardons for Catalonia’s jailed leaders.
Hundreds of people protested in front of the theater, which was heavily guarded by dozens of police officers in riot gear.
🎥 Protest outside Barcelona’s Liceu larger now as hundreds of people reject Spanish president’s visit and the guests in the event— Catalan News (@catalannews) June 21, 2021
Heavy presence of Catalan riot police, who corner demonstrators and prevent more people from getting closer to Liceuhttps://t.co/DQ9kg3Aueh pic.twitter.com/xHRkrAiOex
Sánchez has presented pardons to the nine politicians and activists serving lengthy prison sentences for their role in the 2017 independence referendum push as a tool for reconciliation and overcoming political divisions.
While the independence camp agrees that the only real solution is a full amnesty for all people facing prosecution, some politicians have welcomed pardons as a measure that will "relieve some pain," freeing them while still barring them from public office.
However, more hardline groups see the pardons as a double-edged sword that will benefit some of the movement’s top leaders while putting the ultimate goal of independence on hold.
Some of the associations calling pro-independence protests on Monday include the Catalan National Assembly, which for years organized massive demonstrations for Catalonia’s National Day, and the Committees in Defense of the Republic or CDR, created in the run-up to the 2017 referendum to resist Spain’s attempts to stop the vote.