Spain has backed itself into a corner with no dignified exit in sight over the Madrid-manufactured political drama which saw a number of Catalan politicians and civil rights leaders imprisoned following last year’s referendum.
It was clear yesterday, during Catalans’ National Day as more than a million gathered in Barcelona, that the mood has irreversibly changed towards the Spanish Government and its king, Felipe VI.
Two sections of a towering, symbolic wall came tumbling down across Barcelona’s Diagonal to deafening cheers during the rally. One section of the wall represented the king and another the contentious Article 155 which was used last year to suspend Catalonia’s autonomous powers, and sack the entire government after a unilateral declaration of independence was voted on by the Catalan parliament.
As the roars of approval subsided yesterday the message to Madrid was clear: “There is no going back!” It is also clear there can be no dialogue between the parties until the political prisoners are released and those in exile are given an amnesty.
Pedro Sánchez, the 46-year-old leader of Spain’s centre-left Socialist Workers’ Party was looking increasingly weak yesterday. He has essentially been left with no room to manoeuvre after inheriting the problem from his predecessor, the scandal-hit Mariano Rajoy.
Sánchez continues to warn that Article 155 will be used again should the Catalan regional government opt to take unilateral action once more. 155 was lifted after fresh elections were held and a new coalition government was formed led by pro-independence parties.
There are more political storms on the horizon for Sánchez with the forthcoming trials for rebellion facing some of the political prisoners in jail. The former MP for the Spanish Socialist Party and professor of constitutional law, Diego López Garrido, was one of the people who drafted the crime of rebellion in the Spanish Penal Code.
He says that events of September 20 which led to the rebellion charges do not constitute a crime of rebellion since there was no violence of any kind. When the author of the law cries foul it’s little wonder international observers accuse some elements of the Spanish judiciary of an abuse of power.
Meanwhile after the massive turnout for Diada 2018 it is clear for anyone to see that far from giving up on their hopes for independence, Catalans are already talking about “when” and not “if” it will happen.
As the symbolic walls came tumbling down across the Diagonal during yesterday’s peaceful demonstration it was clear the birth of a new nation is imminent.
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