SPAIN'S president Pedro Sánchez may not be having the most relaxing time at the moment, with accusations of plagiarism flying about his PhD and his opposition claiming the decision to exhume dictator General Franco...
Over 315,000 clamour for release of 'political prisoners'
ANOTHER massive protest took over Barcelona yesterday (Sunday) calling for the release of the nine 'political prisoners' who remain in custody facing charges ranging from sedition and 'violent rebellion' to misuse of public funds.
Despite the 315,000-plus people who marched down the north-eastern city's main streets – or 750,000, according to the organisers, who put the figure at more than double the estimations of the Guardia Urbana – the protest was somewhat overshadowed in the headlines by the hundreds of thousands of pensioners who took over numerous cities on the same day clamouring for annual increases in line with inflation.
In Barcelona, only around 2,000 pensioners joined the marches, however; a fraction of those who protested over Catalunya's top politicians being held in jail for their role in organising the disputed independence referendum.
This enormous demonstration was convened by the campaign group Espai Democràcia i Convivència – which roughly translates as 'Space for Democracy and Community' – and attended by the regional branches of Spain's main unions, the Labourers' Commissions (CCOO) and General Workers' Union (UGT).
Residents from towns and villages all over Catalunya's four provinces – Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona and Lleida – flooded into the city in 957 coaches ready to start the march at 12.45 midday from the Plaza España, which ended in the Avinguda del Paral·lel.
Political parties of all colours – although not Spain's main two, the PP and the PSOE – took part, with Catalunya's Parliamentary chairman Roger Torrent leading the throng.
He was joined by Barcelona's mayoress Ada Colau who, although she is against the idea of an independent Catalunya and preferred not to get involved in the referendum due to the risk of prison for her councillors, strongly opposes criminal action against those who organised the vote as she considers it a political issue and not one for the courts or police.
Among those currently jailed are the deposed deputy regional president Oriol Junqueras, and regional MPs Jordi Cuixart, leader of the group Òmnium Cultural and Jordi Sànchez, head of the Catalunya National Assembly (ANC).
Sànchez has been nominated by exiled regional president Carles Puigdemont as his successor following an election on December 21 forced by the national government, but the formal swearing-in ceremony has not been able to go ahead due to Sànchez's being in custody.
Other major politicians have so far kept out of jail by staying out of Spain – Anna Gabriel, spokeswoman for the CUP, is in Switzerland and ex-education minister Clara Ponsatí is in Scotland, having returned to her teaching job at St Andrew's University in Edinburgh, where she enjoys overwhelming support from the Scots and in particular from first minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Carles Puigdemont had been living in Waterloo, Belgium since October, but a European arrest warrant issued last month led to his being detained in the German region of Schleswig-Holstein after crossing the Danish border by car returning home from a conference in Helsinki.
He has been released after paying €75,000 in bail and will not face charges for 'violent rebellion' or 'sedition', but could be extradited to Spain to face trial for misuse of public funds.
Those calling for the release of what they term 'political prisoners' have adopted the colour yellow and wear loops of ribbon to show their support for them.
High-profile non-political figures who do so include former FC Barcelona and current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who has defied the British Football Association (FA) by continuing to wear his yellow ribbon even after being fined nearly €23,000 for displaying political symbols during matches and press conferences.
You may also be interested in ...
More Politics & People content
SPAIN'S government has approved a decree to exhume the remains of dictator General Franco and move them to another graveyard, away from the 'Valley of the Fallen', or Valle de los Caídos, an historical site...
HEALTH minister Carmen Montón has resigned from her post within just 100 days of taking it up after becoming the latest case in the Rey Juan Carlos University master's degree tangle. A few months back, Madrid's...
CATALUNYA'S regional day brought its usual colourful wall-to-wall march through Barcelona and nods to the north-eastern territory's culture and history among its expats worldwide – but this year was one of the...