The president of Catalonia, Quim Torra, has reiterated his 'no' to the Spanish budget, unless the government in Madrid accepts a referendum on Catalan self-determination. Speaking to the US news agency Associated Press ahead of the Catalan leader's official North American visit which begins this Sunday, Torra explained that the pro-independence parties "have already made it very clear that they will vote against the budget because there has been no movement by the Spanish government in relation to what we are asking."
The head of the Catalan executive commented that the "blank cheque" given to Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez was only for the purposes of replacing the previous government by means of last May's no-confidence motion, and ruled out continuing to support Sánchez because "he hasn't advanced even one millimetre" on the issue of self-determination for Catalonia. Without the votes of the Catalan pro-independence parties, the Spanish government does not have a parliamentary majority to pass its budget.
On the upcoming trial of leading figures in the 2017 independence referendum, Torra said he trusts that the lawyers of the pro-independence leaders on trial "will mount an excellent defence", but he says that "seeing how the Spanish judicial system has acted up till now our hope is very close to zero". The Catalan president sees exile and jail as "a sacrifice" that has helped "reinforce the will of the majority of the Catalan people to move toward independence."
Trip to the United States
The interview has been published just as Torra's trip to the United States gets under way. The president will meet with David Bieter, Democratic mayor of Boise, Ohio, and will give a conference on Monday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Research & Education Institute, at Stanford University in California.
The conference is to be held at the University's Humanities Center and beforehand Torra will take part in a joint class with the director of the MLK Jr Institute, Clayborne Carson, who invited him to participate in the event.
The contact between Carson and Torra arose as a result of the controversy when Spanish newspaper El Confidencial misquoted the institute director as saying that US civil rights leader King would not have approved of the Catalan independence movement. Carson later rejected the El Confidencial claim, saying he was "shocked and disturbed" to be misquoted, that he was "pleased when any movement chooses to use the kind of nonviolent tactics and strategies that King advocated," and that he would welcome the chance to learn more about the Catalan issue.