“I understand that there may be compatriots who may have concerns about the possibility of giving pardons to Catalan prisoners but I ask you to have confidence because we have to make a commitment to coexistence, “said Spanish President Pedro Sánchez from Buenos Aires this week during his official visit of less than a day.
He was referring to the decision that only he can make and that is the last wakefulness that irritates the opposition sectors and worries Spanish society: pardon the Catalan separatist leaders who 20 months ago were sentenced by the Supreme Court to sentences of between 9 and 13 years in prison by sedition, for having been part, in 2017, of the independence attempt in Catalonia.
From Argentina, Sánchez reviewed the rosary of illegalities that Catalan sovereignty was threading at that time when the impulse to found its own republic seemed uncontrollable.
Pedro Sánchez in San José, Costa Rica. Photo: EFE
“I understand that there may be citizens who have qualms on this decision that the government of Spain may take, especially considering the events that occurred in 2017, the disconnection laws that occurred in the Parliament of Catalonia, the referendum, the unilateral declaration of independence that was later suspended. “
And I add: “I ask for understanding, magnanimity to the whole of Catalan and Spanish society because the challenge ahead is worth it ”. Since then, his critics call him, ironically, “Pedro, the magnanimous.”
Catalonia, a hot iron for Madrid
Catalonia was and is an increasingly incandescent iron for the hand of those who govern from La Moncloa. And Sánchez has been showing signs of political contortionism putting the tablecloth at a dialogue table with the government of the Generalitat in exchange for parliamentary abstentions that allow him to gather the five that are missing for the weight and continue governing.
The opposition parties, from the center to the far right -Ciudadanos, PP and Vox-, have been gathering signatures against the pardons and igniting a demonstration called for Sunday the 13th, in the Plaza Colón in Madrid, by the Unión 78 platform that was founded, among others, by the philosopher and writer Fernando Savater.
“So that criminals do not get out of prison”, explained a platinum woman under a blue gazebo in the Cuatro Caminos roundabout in Madrid, an ideal corner to collect signatures due to the high density of people who come and go here.
Demonstration against the trial of the independence process in 2019. Photo: dpa
The leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, does not hide his discomfort at the possibility of pardoning the wayward Catalans: “They corrupt the figure of pardon to pay a political price against everyone’s patrimony. To call this dark transaction concord is a grotesque manipulation, ”he says.
“Catalonia will never be independent. And this government knows it – assures Casado -. All he wants is to spend two more years in Moncloa at the cost of leaving a worse Catalonia and of course, a worse Spain. “
The controversy reaches the PSOE
The controversy reaches predecessors of Pedro Sánchez of the PSOE in the government such as Felipe González and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
For González, “The conditions have not been met” to pardon. “Recovering politics means that the Constitution, the Statute and the legal system are respected,” says González, while Rodriguez Zapatero defends pardons.
“This decision can significantly help what all Spaniards want, which is for things to be better between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, that the independence movement loses strength and that the dialogue recovers ”, he says.
Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonès, the Catalan regional president who has been in office for just three weeks, which cost him horrors to negotiate with the rest of the pro-independence formations, have already spoken for 40 minutes by phone and will meet at the dialogue table before the end of the month.
There are rumors that Sanchez he plans to finalize the pardons, to which the Supreme Court was declared contrary, before that meeting.
The text, which would be giving the last hairdos, would raise “reversible” pardons, that is, with the possibility of being annulled if the beneficiaries commit some other crime, an antidote to the “We will do it again” that the most caustic independentistas often repeat.
“Today we continue to believe that the best way to do it, as we have always defended, is the scottish way. The path of the pact and the agreement, the path of the agreed referendum ”, said by letter one of the possible pardons, the former Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras, leader of the Republican Esquerra of Catalonia.
“Other ways are not viable or desirable,” said the former president, alluding to the unilateralism that caused so many headaches for the independence movement. Another characteristic was that they would not annul the sentence but would be partial.
March by different entities favorable to the unity of Spain, in Barcelona. Photo: EFE
“The right of self-determination according to the United Nations doctrine is not valid for Catalonia and other types of processes because it is designed for the colonized territories. The others, if they want to become independent, must do so in a concerted way with the State in which they are, ”he clarifies to Clarion, Vicenç Fisas, expert in conflict analysis and peace processes.
In his latest book, Rethinking the ‘Procés’ through dialogueFisas breaks down the negotiated resolution of the conflict between Catalonia and Spain as the only possible way.
“The current Spanish government, from the first moment, realized that the prison sentences they weren’t the solution for the conflict with Catalonia ”, considers Fisas, who directed the School of Culture of Peace at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
“It is true that the laws have been skipped, that they have disobeyed sentences of the highest courts, but for the figure of sedition, in Spain, the penalty is greatly exaggerated. There is no precedent in other European countries. The government understood that the Penal Code must be changed so that the crime of sedition includes lesser penalties ”, he believes.
The then president of the Generalitat, Quim Torra after a banner with the slogan “Deciding is not a crime”, in 2019. Photo: EFE
“More than 80 percent of the Catalan population wants to the things agreed”Says Fisas.
“The polls show that if the Spanish State grants more self-government, the pro-independence vote drops and would not reach 40 percent,” he says.
“In the short and medium term, Catalonia will not be independent because there are not sufficient majorities of support”Says Fisas. “Until it is something desired by two-thirds of the population, or even dream of it.”
There will be no shortage of those who confront Pedro Sánchez with his own file when in October 2019, with the sentence fresh from the oven, he gave a message on TV in which he said: “I want to show absolute respect and compliance (with the ruling) by the government of Spain. This ruling puts an end to a judicial process that has been carried out with full guarantees and absolute transparency. And as it corresponds to a social and democratic State and of right like the Spanish, the observance means its complete fulfillment ”.
And even one of his most loyal ministers, José Luis Abalos, assured him at that time Clarion: “It is not at all appropriate to speak of pardons. Of course the government does not have that will. “
But, you know, you can change your mind.