Política 30-10-2017

The dismissed Catalan president travels to Brussels after being denounced for rebellion

The Spanish government took the power in Catalonia without finding resistance from the destitute independence president Carles Puigdemont, who on Monday traveled to Brussels after receiving a lawsuit for rebellion and sedition.

This Monday is the first working day since the declaration of independence made on Friday by the Parliament of Catalonia and the measures adopted by the head of government Mariano Rajoy to control the region, two actions without precedents in modern Spain.

In an atmosphere of uncertainty, all eyes were on Puigdemont to know if he would resist leaving his position.

For hours, dozens of journalists awaited his arrival at the headquarters of the regional government in Barcelona. But he did not appear.

Where is Puigdemont? It was the question on everyone's lips. "It's in Brussels," said a Spanish government source. The Catalan newspaper El Periódico said he had gone with some of his collaborators to ask for political asylum.

On Sunday, a Belgian minister, a Flemish separatist, had hinted that the country could offer asylum to the Catalan independence government, although the Prime Minister, Charles Michel, later denied it.

Unable to confirm this information, Puigdemont lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas told AFP: "He is very sorry that, if they came to arrest him and they quote him to testify, there could be protests and violent acts."

AFP / Josep Lago A portrait of the destitute president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, photographed at the Generalitat, in Barcelona, on October 30, 2017

For her part, Marta Pascal, spokesperson for her PDeCAT party, recalled that during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (1939-1975), Catalonia had leaders in exile who "remained the president of the Catalan government."

-“Rebellion "and" sedition”

The European institutions indicated to the AFP that there is no planned meeting with him and the nationalist party N-VA said he had not invited him.

From the party of extreme left Catalan independence CUP claimed explanations. "The country needs to know what roadmap the government has (Catalan, ndlr), why is it in Brussels," said Mireia Boya, deputy.

The news about Puigdemont's trip to Brussels jumped minutes after the Spanish public prosecutor announced a lawsuit against him and his government for various crimes - including "rebellion" and "sedition" - punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

They are accused of provoking "an institutional crisis that culminated in the unilateral declaration of independence carried out with total disregard for our Constitution," said Attorney General José Manuel Maza.

Waiting for the government

The pro-independence ones were waiting more and more discouraged. They celebrated with joy the birth of their republic this Friday.

"We are waiting for what the government does" of Puigdemont, explained on Sunday night to AFP a person in charge of an independence organization.

If they believe that they are the 'government' of the Republic, then we will go out and protect them, but if they do not do anything, we will have to see what we are doing, "he added.

However, this Monday, only one of its members went to his office and the Spanish flags were still flying on the official premises.

AFP / Pau Barrena The deposed vice president of the Catalan government, Oriol Junqueras (d), arrives at the regional parliament, in Barcelona, on October 30, 2017

The decision of the independence leaders also depends on the 200,000 officials of the regional administration, now under the orders of the central government.

In recent weeks there have been calls to disobey his new superiors but it is uncertain if they will do so after the apparent disbanding of their leaders.

"I think people will continue to work normally in their day-to-day lives," Joan Escanilla, spokesperson in Catalonia for the CSIF officials union, told AFP.

-In electoral logic-

The region is now heading for a new electoral contest to calibrate forces between supporters and those opposed to secession, which are shared almost equally among Catalans.

Among the measures adopted on Friday, Rajoy decreed the dissolution of the regional parliament and the call for regional elections on December 21, which for the time being; they seem to have been obeyed by those responsible for the Catalan chamber.

The parties favoring the unity of Spain launched the pre-campaign on Sunday, calling massively to the hundreds of thousands of people who demonstrated in Barcelona against secession.

But they also seem willing to attend these elections pro-independence parties that just two days before had proclaimed the new republic

The main parties in favor of the Spanish unit -Ciudadanos (Liberal), Socialists and the Popular Party, of Rajoy-, participated, inviting their followers to vote massively on December 21st.

"On the 21st we will go to the polls, we will be convinced," said Marta Pascal while her coalition partner, Izquierda Republicana de Cataluña (ERC), pointed in the same direction.

According to the latest published polls, the pro-independence ones could lose in these elections the absolute majority of the regional parliament obtained in September 2015 for the first time in its history.