‘We will be independent,’ Catalonia’s regional leader vows
Catalonia’s succession from Spain is “absolutely irreversible,” regional leader Quim Torra said, adding that he is ready negotiate the date of a new independence referendum with the central government in Madrid.
Torra met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Barcelona on Friday to outline the agenda for the larger talks on Catalonia’s future to be held later in February. They’ve met for the first time in over a year after the previous talks collapsed in late 2018.
But it seems Madrid and Barcelona are once going to the negotiating table with completely opposite stances. Sanchez, who vigorously rejects the idea of Catalonia’s independence and a new referendum, said that “what the government of Spain is proposing is a restart.”
But Torra told Reuters he isn’t looking for a “restart,” as the parting of ways with Spain is “absolutely irreversible.”
We will be independent.
Solving the “hot conflict” between Barcelona and Madrid means letting “the Catalan people decide their own future democratically and peacefully,” he said.
Torra, who is ignoring an 18-month ban from public office for his own pro-independence activities to remain the Catalan leader, said he plans to discuss the date for a new referendum at the upcoming talks with Sanchez.
Catalonia held an independence vote in October 2017, in which 92 percent voted to split from Spain. The referendum, which Madrid deemed illegal, was marred by a violent crackdown on the voters by the Spanish police. The Catalan parliament passed a declaration of independence following the vote.
The ruling was suspended by the Spanish government, which dissolved the local parliament and ordered a snap election. The main figures in the independence push, including Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras, were put behind bars for organizing the referendum. The region’s leader, Carles Puigdemont, fled Spain to escape prosecution, but his arrest warrant still stands.
In October of last year, Catalonia was shaken by violent protests as demonstrators clashed with police and burned cars, again demanding independence from Spain and the release of those imprisoned.
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