Spanish govt’s plan to pardon Catalans angers hardliners

Published June 14, 2021
A woman holds the Spanish flag during a protest against the Spanish government's plan to issue pardons to a dozen imprisoned Catalan separatist leaders on June 13.  — AP
A woman holds the Spanish flag during a protest against the Spanish government's plan to issue pardons to a dozen imprisoned Catalan separatist leaders on June 13. — AP

MADRID: Right-wing protesters hit the streets of Madrid on Sunday to denounce controversial Spanish government plans to offer pardons to the jailed Catalan separatists behind the failed 2017 independence bid.

Around 25,000 people, according to police estimates, gathered in Madrid’s Plaza de Colon at midday, with the leaders of the opposition Popular Party (PP) and the far-right Vox faction, Pablo Casado and Santiago Abascal, in attendance.

The demonstration aims to turn up the heat on Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who has called for understanding over the planned gesture that has dominated political debate for weeks and reactivated controversy over Catalan separatism.

“Sanchez should take note: he’ll pardon (the separatists), but the Spanish people won’t pardon him,” said Madrid mayor and PP spokesman, Jose Luis Martinez Almeida.

“The only thing that Sanchez wants is to hold onto power at whatever price,” one demonstrator, Pablo Martinez, who had come to the rally with his wife and daughter from Oviedo in northern Spain, said.

During an official visit to Argentina on Wednesday, Sanchez said he understood that “there may be people who could have objections over this decision that the government may take, given what happened in 2017.

“But I ask for your trust. I ask for understanding and for magnanimity because the challenge facing all of us — to promote coexistence — is worth it,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2021

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