Spain Ramps Up Tensions With Catalonia by Jailing Two Pro-Independence Leaders

Spain’s government just tightened the screw on the country’s richest region, Catalonia. After Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont refused to clarify whether his speech last Tuesday represented a genuine declaration of independence or not, Madrid has hit back in time-honoured fashion, by having the two leaders of the two main civic organisations behind Catalonia’s (so far) non-violent independence movement, the fittingly named ANC and Òmnium Cultura, arrested and imprisoned without bail.

Here’s more from El Diario (translated from Spanish):

National Court Judge Carmen Lamela has agreed to send the leaders of the ANC, Jordi Sánchez, and Òmnium Cultura, Jordi Cuixart, to prison, without bail, according to Spain’s prosecution service. Sánchez has only answered questions from his lawyer, while Cuixart, who has already denied the court’s jurisdiction to try him for sedition, refused to speak.

Lamela… gave Sánchez and Cuixart an “essential” role in sedition. She accused them of collaborating in a “complex strategy” that sought “the execution of the road map designed to achieve the independence of Catalonia.” Both, said Lamela, “are part of a strategic committee with specific functions to execute.”

Forty-two years after Francisco Franco’s death, Spain has prominent political prisoners back in its jails. Their crime is sedition. They helped mobilise up to half the population of a region of 7.5 million behind a completely peaceful (at least for now) movement for national independence. Their imprisonment sends a clear signal to Catalonia’s two main political leaders, President Carles Puigdemont and Vice President Oriol Junqueras: if they refuse to submit to Madrid by 10 a.m. Thursday and return within the folds of Spanish law, they, too, will be behind bars very shortly. Even if they do surrender, there are no guarantees that they will not go to jail.

Madrid’s latest “proportional” act should also serve as a message to all Europeans — or at least all Europeans living in countries belonging to the EU: democracy is a fragile thing in today’s “united” Europe. Everything Madrid has done so far, it has done with Brussels’ tacit — and at times explicit — blessing.

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