"First of all, to defend democracy", "it's time to resist". That's the priority of the road map the Carles Puigdemont's Catalan government has set out from Brussels as explained in their "Letter from Belgium", signed by the president and the ministers with him, Toni Comín, Meritxell Serret, Clara Ponsatí and Lluís Puig. The full text is expected to be published in the coming hours, El Nacional has learnt.
Puigdemont and his ministers, in Brussels, conditionally free whilst the Belgian justice system considers the extradition request from Spain, announce in the letter that they have set up a "stable structure" to co-ordinate the actions of the Catalan government "in exile".
The text explains that they have two obligations. First, to maintain the legitimacy of the government, based on the results of the most recent Catalan elections on 27th September 2015, when a Parliament, also legitimate, was elected. Second, they have to "maintain democracy" in the face of a Spanish state they see as "crazy and out of control".
The note strongly criticises the Spanish state's attitude and even the European Union's tolerance of the "abuses" against the Catalans' requests. However, it also advocates for the independence movement to keep its civil, peaceful character. "We should not let ourselves be swept along with the violent drive that prevails in a good part of the Spanish political system, because it's the only area in which we will definitely lose," they write.
The road map for the next few days goes beyond "defending democracy": "we have to resist, persevere and continue defending our language, our culture and our history". "We have to democratically throw out from our institutions those who wanted to make them their own through a coup d'état", they add, in allusion to Mariano Rajoy's government and his political allies, PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) and Cs (Citizens), who supported the application of article 155 of the Constitution to intervene in Catalan autonomy.
The other key objective is to "achieve the release of the political prisoners that the Spanish state has kidnapped", in other words, vice-president Oriol Junqueras, the seven ministers imprisoned with him and the presidents of pro-independence organisations ANC (Catalan National Assembly) and Òmnium, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart. As such, they call on the public to take part in Saturday's demonstration in Barcelona and the elections on 21st December, called by prime minister Rajoy.
Saturday's demonstration follows a "countrywide standstill" this Wednesday, which saw roads and trains disrupted and rallies held all around Catalonia calling for the release of the political prisoners and the Catalan government to be allowed to return from Belgium.