"It's an unprecedented scandal in an advanced democracy. It's time to take a stand, especially outside Catalonia, because everyone's freedom is at stake". This was the reaction of a political science professor at the US's Duke University to the decision by a Spanish judge to charge Catalan political leaders with the crime of rebellion.
Pablo Beramendi, a Spanish political scientist at the prestigious North Carolina university, made the comments in two tweets on Saturday, reacting to Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena's use of the charge of rebellion - a crime that by definition involves violence - as the primary indictment laid against 13 Catalan pro-independence leaders on Friday. The messages led to a heated Twitter discussion:
La insistencia en el delito de rebelión para encarcelar a rivales políticos a pesar de la evidencia proclamada por juristas dentro y fuera de Cat es un escándalo sin precedentes en una democracia avanzada. Es hora de plantarse, especialmente fuera de Cataluña. Está en juego mucho— Pablo Beramendi (@p_beramendi) 23 de març de 2018
Está en juego mucho más q la sagrada unidad del estado. Está en juego la libertad de todos. Hoy pisotean los derechos de los que no piensan como tú. Mañana pisotearán los tuyos, los de todos. Enough. Basta. Prou— Pablo Beramendi (@p_beramendi) 23 de març de 2018
Insisting on the crime of rebellion to imprison political rivals despite the evidence presented by legal experts inside and outside of Catalonia is an unprecedented scandal in an advanced democracy. It's time to take a stand, especially outside of Catalonia. Much is at stake. — Pablo Beramendi
Much more than the sacred unity of the state is at stake. Everyone's freedom is at stake. Today they trample on the rights of those who don't think like you. Tomorrow they will trample yours, everyone's. Enough. — Pablo Beramendi
At the time of writing this text, the first tweet had been retweeted more than 2,700 times and the comments range across the full spectrum of opinions on the issue.
Beramendi already dedicated a class to the situation in Catalonia on October 12th, after the independence referendum. In an article in October 2017 that the political scientist co-wrote with sociologist José Fernández-Albertos, he recognizes that it is a "political problem that demands political solutions" and is not resolved by "invoking legality." The two authors proposed that the Catalan government should "postpone the declaration of independence in exchange for an institutional response from the Spanish state that would allow them to save face in Catalonia," - the proposal was for a commission with representatives of both governments and parliamentary forces.
Beramendi has also written in El País about his specialty, inequality and income redistribution. In one of his latest articles, from August 2016, he argues in favor of an alternative majority to the Popular Party which he says is "politically very urgent" due to the "gravity" of Spain's problems.