November 27, 2022

‘No regrets’ says pardoned but defiant Catalan separatist, Europe News & Top Stories

MONTBLANC, SPAIN (AFP) – He spent three years and eight months behind bars for his involvement in Catalonia’s 2017 failed independence bid. But Mr Jordi Cuixart says he has no regrets, days after being pardoned by Spain.

One of nine Catalan separatist leaders freed on Wednesday (June 23) as a gesture of “reconciliation”, Mr Cuixart says the olive branch will not resolve the separatist crisis in this wealthy northeastern region of Spain.

“These pardons don’t reflect a desire to resolve the political conflict,” says the 46-year-old who heads Omnium Cultural, one of the region’s biggest grassroots pro-independence groups.

Speaking to AFP, Mr Cuixart pointed to widespread criticism of their imprisonment from NGOs like Amnesty International as a factor behind the release of the separatists, but said what tipped the balance was that “our being in prison was creating problems for the Spanish state”.

Mr Cuixart was arrested on October 16, 2017, after a demonstration outside a regional government building during which several police vehicles were destroyed.

In 2019, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for sedition.

‘No regrets’

The image of Mr Cuixart addressing protesters while standing on a police vehicle remains one of the enduring images of the failed independence bid which sparked Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

The prisoners were serving between nine and 13 years each for their role in holding a referendum banned by Spain’s courts, which was marred by police violence.

Several weeks later, Catalonia’s separatist regional Parliament made a short-lived declaration of independence, prompting Madrid to sack the regional government and suspend its autonomy.

And after much thought while in prison, Mr Cuixart says he has almost no regrets.

“I don’t regret anything except the violence that was inflicted (by police) on ordinary citizens,” he said, blaming the Spanish state for all the unrest.

Others have been slightly more self-critical.

Mr Oriol Junqueras, deputy head of the Catalan government at the time of the crisis and the prisoner serving the longest sentence of 13 years, recently admitted the separatists made mistakes back in 2017.


Catalan separatist Jordi Cuixart chats with people as he walks in his hometown of Montblanc on June 25, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

Even so, Mr Cuixart believes that the talks between Madrid and Catalonia’s separatist leadership, which are to resume soon, may end up being a “turning point”.

“I don’t see Spanish society as being ready for progress on autonomy, but politicians are responsible for engaging in dialogue,” said Mr Cuixart, who has a salt-and-pepper beard and wears his hair in a longish curly mullet.

A fervent advocate of the right to self-determination, a key separatist demand, he is nonetheless aware that the central government remains categorically opposed to such an idea.

‘We’ll get there’

While he missed his children, the youngest of whom was born while he was behind bars, Mr Cuixart said he has fond memories of prison – although he was held in a semi-open regime and able to leave regularly.

Now totally free, he is enjoying his first days of real freedom in a small village about 100 kilometres west of Barcelona, where his family has a house and where all the locals recognise him, his face being very well-known within Catalan society.

He says his time in jail has made him stronger.

“They wanted me to lose everything but the only thing I lost was fear. I am not afraid of the Spanish state,” he said defiantly.

“Will we ever have a Catalan Republic? If that’s what Catalans want, it’s very likely it will happen one day.”

in World
Related Posts

Europe prepares for peak summer tourist season despite concern over Covid-19 Delta variant, Europe News & Top Stories

June 26, 2021

June 26, 2021

SINGAPORE – European Union (EU) members are easing curbs in preparation for the peak tourist season this summer, but concerns...

Abu Dhabi limits public spaces to people deemed Covid-19 safe, Middle East News & Top Stories

June 10, 2021

June 10, 2021

ABU DHABI (BLOOMBERG) – Abu Dhabi will restrict entry to public venues including malls and beaches to people who are...

‘Like someone throwing fire on your face’: Heatwave engulfs Pacific North-west and Canada, United States News & Top Stories

July 3, 2021

July 3, 2021

PORTLAND, OREGON (FINANCIAL TIMES) – When Caleb Coder helped set up an emergency shelter in the US city of Portland...

G-7’s ‘bare minimum’ climate cash pledge misses the mark, World News & Top Stories

June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

SINGAPORE – Group of Seven leaders set out ambitious climate targets at the end of their summit in England, pledging...

US bishops vote to draft Communion statement that may rebuke Biden for abortion views, United States News & Top Stories

June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – A divided conference of US Roman Catholic bishops announced on Friday (June 18) that they had voted...

Irreversible warming tipping point may have been triggered: Arctic mission chief, Europe News & Top Stories

June 15, 2021

June 15, 2021

BERLIN (AFP) – The tipping point for irreversible global warming may have already been triggered, the scientist who led the...

WHO, at heart of world’s sluggish response to Covid-19, faces potential shake-up, Europe News & Top Stories

May 31, 2021

May 31, 2021

GENEVA (REUTERS) – The World Health Organisation, at the heart of the world’s slow and stuttering handling of the Covid-19...

Partying youths defy Paris police for third night running, Europe News & Top Stories

June 13, 2021

June 13, 2021

PARIS (AFP) – Paris police said on Sunday (June 13) that three people were detained after officers used tear gas...

Syria’s Assad wins fourth term in office with 95.1% of votes, Middle East News & Top Stories

May 27, 2021

May 27, 2021

BEIRUT (REUTERS) – Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad won a fourth term in office with 95.1 per cent of votes in...

‘Comrade Xi’ statue? Serbia wants to thank its friends in China, World News & Top Stories

May 26, 2021

May 26, 2021

BELGRADE (BLOOMBERG) – First came billions of dollars of investment, then millions of doses of vaccines. Now there’s a campaign...

Labour veteran Herzog elected Israel’s 11th president, Middle East News & Top Stories

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel’s Parliament elected the even-keeled Labour veteran Isaac Herzog as its 11th president on Wednesday (June 2),...

US authorises another 14 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine: Sources, United States News & Top Stories

June 16, 2021

June 16, 2021

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday (June 15) authorised around 14 million more doses of...

Dangerously trending: driverless Tesla videos on social media, United States News & Top Stories

May 30, 2021

May 30, 2021

NEW YORK (AFP) – It was a boozy joyride captured for TikTok with a soundtrack provided by Justin Bieber and...

Biden celebrates new citizens as US launches naturalisation effort, United States News & Top Stories

July 2, 2021

July 2, 2021

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – President Joe Biden celebrated new US citizens at an event at the White House on Friday (July...

Countries urge patent waivers for more than just Covid-19 vaccines, World News & Top Stories

May 22, 2021

May 22, 2021

GENEVA (AFP) РDozens of countries have revised a proposal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for patent waivers for medical...