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Pedro Sánchez, in a register that was, to put it mildly, prudent, has given his summing-up of the year 2020 as it draws to a close, without any commitment regarding the pardons for the Catalan political prisoners. It is disappointing news for those who took it for granted a few months ago that the nine jailed pro-independence leaders would spend this Christmas at home. But it is also a sign of the times for a prime minister who is elusive when faced with difficulties and afraid of the narrative of the right, which from the opposition, seems to have more reserves of power than the Spanish government itself and has the ability to impose its own media narrative quite easily.

Sánchez opened the door a sliver in his press conference reviewing the year. Surely enough to give the Madrid press ammunition so that they can charge in ruthlessly and try to make him retreat. This is his game: do nothing, make a few statements open to interpretation, try to gain time, protect the perimeter of his parliamentary majority and, above all, gain time: an old legacy that comes from Mariano Rajoy.

The dossier, then, is placed in the inbox for 2021, listed under two political keywords: reconciliation and reencounter, words which he already used to arrive at the primer ministerial role while the nine political prisoners continued in their cells, the exiles carried on being the targets of Spanish justice, related court cases number in the hundreds and the number of people retaliated against in the thousands.

All this he says with his eyes on February 14th. As if he is confident that the Catalans will solve their problem at the polls and that the post-election puzzle will yield some hidden play that is impossible today. The truth is that Sánchez has never had a plan for Catalonia even if he pretends otherwise. There has been no political movement, beyond the indignity which the dialogue table proposal represented, nor has there been a real will to repair the situation of state investments in Catalonia, to address an economic agreement within the framework of the out-of-date autonomous financing system, and, much less, to open up the issue of Catalonia's fiscal deficit.

And in times of repression and financial famine, you can't eat friendly words.

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