From Belgium, Catalonia Leader Dismissed By Spain Insists He’s Still in Charge
Puigdemont pledged to respect the results of the upcoming elections, and demanded a commitment from Spain’s central government to do the same, meaning that they would not dissolve the local legislature again, should pro-independence parties triumph.Activists with two grassroots pro-independence groups responsible for organizing massive street protests, the Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium, suggested on Tuesday that the jailed leaders of their organizations, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, should be placed on the ballot as candidates in the election.Puigdemont also dismissed rumors that he was in Belgium to seek political asylum, despite reports in the local media that he had hired a Belgian lawyer who previously helped a Basque separatist avoid extradition to Spain.
Reports that the Catalan leader might seek asylum had been propelled by comments from the Belgian immigration minister, Theo Francken, a member of a Flemish nationalist party who questioned whether Puigdemont could expect a fair trial in a Spanish court.The show of support from Francken was a mixed blessing for Puigdemont, since images of the Flemish nationalist celebrating the birthday of a retired member of his party who once collaborated with the Nazis quickly circulated on social networks in Spain.
In Spain, meanwhile, images of fascist salutes, and Franco-era songs, seen and heard at rallies against Catalan independence in Madrid and Barcelona, have been deployed by separatists to argue that they are threatened by a menacing strain of Spanish nationalism.
Theo Francken celebrando cumpleaños de Bob Maes fundador de una milicia flamenca ultraderechista y de joven militante de la juventudes nazis pic.twitter.com/J88UdFjcm0— Alfons Puncel (@AlfonsoPuncel) October 30, 2017
Puigdemont, however, said that he had traveled to Brussels not to seek refuge in Belgium, but “because it is the capital of Europe” and he wanted to make the point that Spain’s use of force to prevent a referendum on Catalan independence “is a European issue.”Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel reiterated his call for a negotiated solution to the Catalan crisis and made clear that, even though Puigdemont had not been invited to Belgium in any official capacity, he would be afforded “the same rights and obligations as any European citizen, no more, no less.”The post From Belgium, Catalonia Leader Dismissed By Spain Insists He’s Still in Charge appeared first on The Intercept.
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