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Changing history was one of the lofty arguments mentioned by Pedro Sánchez at the Liceu to justify the granting of pardons to the nine Catalan political prisoners. Beyond the pomp with which the Moncloa government palace has wanted to bathe the passing of the pardons measure - just the day after it received a severe dressing-down on its handling of Catalonia from the Council of Europe - the Catalan government admits that from now there will be a change of gear in the relationship with the Spanish state. "It's time to return to politics, and face it with the maximum discipline and commitment to find an agreed solution that respects the popular will of the people of Catalonia," said president Pere Aragonès in an institutional statement this afternoon accompanied by all his ministers.


VIDEO | Full address from Catalan president Pere Aragonès following the announcement of the pardons (in Catalan).

With their heads held high

After three and a half years in prison, it is now only a matter of hours before, the nine leaders jailed for the 1st October referendum are released. "They leave with their heads held high and their ideals intact, with the will to build a free and just Catalan republic reinforced," the president asserted. While acknowledging that "today's step helps to generate credibility in the path of negotiation and agreement to resolve the conflict" and pledging to "devote all efforts to this new stage," Aragonès also used his speech to make it clear that pardons are not enough. "We demand that Spain respond to the call of the Council of Europe." That is, to end repression and withdraw the extradition demands for those in exile, and to stop the persecution of political representatives. "We demand an end to repression and a commitment to a political solution," he said.

From the Gothic gallery of the Generalitat palace in Barcelona, Aragonès raised the Spanish government's bet: "It's time for the amnesty and the right to self-determination. It's time for an agreed referendum. It's time for the solution that generates most internal consensus, ensures international support and guarantees completely indispensible social cohesion".

The state recognizes the injustice

The Catalan government's interpretation is that "the decision taken today by the government of Spain is an acknowledgment that the sentences were unjust." In this respect, the president recalled that although the release of the prisoners represents a relief of suffering for them and their families, the pardons are partial and maintain "the ban on office holding that limits their political rights" in addition to not resolving "the situation of the exiles ", nor "the general case against the independence movement". "That is why we are asking for an amnesty," he concluded, vowing to continue "decidedly until this is achieved."

During his discourse, he referred to the independence parties' victory in the Catalan elections of February 14th, when for the first time, the barrier of 50% of the votes going to pro-independence options was beaten.

Sources close to the president inform that they are considering the possibility of organizing a reception at the Generalitat palace for the nine prisoners convicts who will almost certainly be released this Wednesday.


In the main image, the president's appearance in the Gothic gallery of the Palau de la Generalitat / M. F.