The Spanish High Court on Thursday, 2 November, granted a request by prosecutors to jail eight former members of the Catalan government without bail, pending trial. The eight, including dismissed Catalan Vice-President Oriol Junqueras, face charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for a secessionist campaign that culminated in a disputed referendum on 1 October and a declaration of independence by the regional Parliament last week.
Insisting that he remained the “legitimate” leader of Catalonia, the region’s ousted President, Carles Puigdemont, called for the politicians to be released. The Spanish government imposed direct rule on Catalonia and dismissed Puigdemont and his regional government after the independence declaration last week.
The following is the translation from Catalan of the WhatsApp message from ousted Catalan Vice-President Oriol Junqueras before being imprisoned:
Only two days ago, with the friend and Conseller Romeva (Foreign Affairs minister of Catalonia), we talked about the threats of imprisonment we had received. The words of the Attorney General, Maza, “harder will be the fall”, did not anticipate any positive intentions.
In fact, we had already seen with the Jordis (Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart are leaders of Gandhi-style pacifist movements and they were inexplicably sent to jail, too, this past month) how a couple of days before their imprisonment, it was leaked in political and journalistic media that the order would be imprisonment, that everything was already agreed (Mr Junqueras is again questioning the separation of powers). Again, it has been the same story, a five-minute hearing has sufficed. Eight councillors of the government of Catalonia, including myself, are today in jail, in application of the justice code that rules in Spain. We found out through the media, on Tuesday night and we did not receive the summons until Wednesday, a public holiday. In less than 24 hours, we were summoned in the National Court of Madrid to defend ourselves from charges that could add to 30 years of prison for each one of us.
Councillor Romeva said on Tuesday that if the price of freedom was prison, we would pay this price. I heard him say vehemently, with a serene and clear voice, with a dignity that impressed me, while he shared with some of us, also in the presence of the consellers and friends Carles Mundó, Jordi Turull and Josep Rull, who these days had already started saying goodbye to family, children, wife, and friends.
The same thing that all of us had done, trying to spend the last few days with the ones we love most, my two children who are so small that they still cannot understand what is happening.
For days, we are very aware of the level of aggressiveness of the PP (People’s Party) government, with the absolute complicity of the PSOE (yes, the Left has allowed the extreme right wing political imprisonments) and, sadly also, the PSC (PSC is the socialist political party of Catalonia). For days, we are very aware of the level of aggressiveness of the PP government, legitimised by the PSOE. Allow me, with all the serenity, to question if the application of the 155 would have been possible without the absolute complicity of the PSOE and, sadly, again also of the PSC (155 is a vague and questionable provision of the Spanish Constitution that PP is using to justify an aggressive intervention of the Catalan government, including massive layoffs). Without the PSC, delivered in body and soul to the PP, none of us would be in prison today, none. Neither the Jordis. It’s legitimacy to perpetrate this scenario of repression has been essential. Faced between the voice of the people, among those who only want to vote and decide and the authoritarianism of a party like the PP, the leadership of the PSC has chosen repression, suspension of liberties, liquidation of institutions and imprisonment for all of us.
And I do not say it with acrimony, I tell it because I feel sorry, real pity, for a party that has ended up caught up in demonstrations with the PP and the extreme right, together with the most corrupt party in Europe, fiercely together with the party of the most stale democratic tradition that may have existed, the party that collected signatures “against Catalonia” with Rajoy (Mariano Rajoy) in front of the party that has turned the judicial system into a servile organ, which has naturalised corruption at all levels and that conspires from the Ministry of the Interior to fabricate slander, ruin people or destroy public health. And everything, everything, with absolute impunity.
But it is not to these parties I want to dedicate more words to. Not worth it. The verse of the Bible says: “Lord, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” For that, let us forget all the pain that they want to inflict on us and let us not get carried away by any other feeling than the love of freedom (here he is appealing again to the pacifist Gandhi style tradition of Catalan politics). We need to devote all our energies to defend democracy, to organise a defence of civil and political rights, to work to win freedom, to continue working so that the civil and political rights of each and every citizen of Catalonia are respected. Catalans were born where they were born, they speak the language they speak, they feel Catalan, Spanish, Arab or Argentine, or maybe all at the same time. This fight is not about flags, it is about democracy, it is about allowing the voice of the citizenry to be respected. And we have to continue doing it, with determination, with courage but also with absolute respect for the ideas of all and civically, repudiating all expression of violence, starting with the only one we are seeing in the streets, the one of the extreme right that acts with all impunity (aggressive extreme right vandalism has not received any judicial attention).
I also want to ask the parties and the civil entities to do all their work, each one in its place, with a solid unity of action. And please, I ask for the solidarity and fraternity of us all, enough of debates and controversies on how each party will be represented in the elections (21 December, or 21D, exercising their control, PP has called for Catalan elections with some questioning their legitimacy). Enough, this debate only hurts us and makes us lose sight of all the work that needs to be done. This episode we already lived and it was disastrous. Everyone should choose the best formula to go to the elections, no Democrat should stay at home on 21D, everyone who loves freedom should go to vote, and each party should strive to make the best possible result. Unity of action and a shared strategy is what unites us, with respect to all points of view.
I also allow myself, as president of ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya), to send a message to all the people of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya and to all those people that we have been incorporating in recent years. I want all of you together, as always, making a common endeavour with the general secretary, Marta Rovira, a great woman who holds all our esteem and confidence: she is the future. I know that you will continue adding and adding, building a great political force that we put at the service of freedom and justice. I want us to continue being an example of honesty, of rigour, of good people. In fact, in that I am very calm, because I am surrounded by people who are much better than me, people with a great capacity and an unequivocal commitment. From the dear Joan Tardà and Gabriel Rufián, on behalf of all the deputies and senators, do not give up, my friends! It is a pleasure and an honour to share this journey with you; de Chaquir, Alba Vergés or Roger Torrent and the whole parliamentary group, you are very good people; of all the mayors and councillors who leave their skin every day, of each and every one of the militants who work with passion in each of your municipalities. Remember well what I say, we are the ones who never get tired, we are the ones who never give up!
And, finally, a message to all the people of Catalonia, never let your convictions down. We have so much at risk that everything is at risk. Let us be worthy of all the people who have preceded us, think of your children, think that we are facing an oppression to punish liberties, against Catalonia, who want us on their knees, submissive, who want to turn us into a province, who stir up hatred against the Catalan school to create a problem where there was not, that day and day also threaten all our decisions and will, which encourage the flight of companies with all the nerve, that feed the speculative economy and despise the productive economy, who do not even commit to respect the elections they have called.
And, above all, serenity, determination, mobilisation, commitment and votes and ballot boxes; let’s give an example by voting massively, as we did on 1 October, despite the clubbing and police brutality against citizens who wanted to vote (referring to the use of force against peaceful civilians). Well now, let’s vote again, because for us the ballot boxes are sacred and the best answer we can give is a victory of democracy on21 December. Let us all work without rest, while we continue to persevere, with high honours and a happy soul.
Fraternal warm regards to all Catalans, we are a great people and we have to be proud of it. We will win! Do not doubt it, however difficult the road may be, because the cause we represent is that of freedom and fraternity among all the people of the world.