In the conflict Spain is maintaining with Catalonia, this Monday has been an important day. And sad. Very sad. For the first time since the so-called Spanish Transition1, a president of Catalonia has visited three prisons near Madrid to meet nine Catalan political prisoners. A significant portion of the Catalan government fired by Mariano Rajoy, the leaders of ANC and Òmnium and the former speaker of the Parliament. Judge Pablo Llarena is keeping all of them in pretrial detention after having rejected, one after the others, all the filings from the defence to put an end to an unjust, anomalous and absurd situation before their trial.
Of the three visits, the one to Estremera prison stands out and his meeting with ministers Jordi Turull and Josep Rull, who had accepted to join the new government; knowing, that said, that their terms depend on the Supreme Court deciding to suspend their rights, once the indictment is finalised. Turull and Rull thanked Torra for their nominations and stayed by their wish to be reinstated. The president also spoke with Oriol Junqueras, Quim Forn and Raül Romeva, who renounced months ago returning to the government in their current legal situation.
From Estremera, Torra went to Alcalá Meco, where Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa told him that they feel like hostages of the Spanish justice system. And he ended in Soto del Real with the Jordis, Sànchez and Cuixart, who asked him to never renounce self-determination for Catalonia. Nine lives cut short and a shared idea: that their struggle for Catalonia's dignity makes sense.
A fight which is, certainly, unequal. So much so, that the person who has to publish the decree nominating the nine ministers isn't doing so purely and simply because they don't feel like it and the Catalan government's official gazette depends on them. And a fight in which Rajoy, Sánchez and Rivera are able to agree to maintain article 155, the first two breaking their word, and all three breaking the Constitution. German newspaper Telepolis, which has received various awards for investigative journalism, has directly described it as a "silent coup d'état in Spain".
The Jordis have been in prison for 217 days: Junqueras and Forn, 198; Turull, Rull, Romeva and Bassa, 90 and Forcadell, 59. The force of the state in the face of the resistence of a society mobilised in the defence of its rights. As the Human Rights Observatory of the University of Barcelona says, in defence of democracy under threat.
Translator's note: 1. The Spanish Transition (to democracy) is the name for the period following Franco's death in 1975 and the ensuing end of the dictatorship.