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Forceful. This Wednesday, July 13th, Junts' spokesperson in the Congress of Deputies, Míriam Nogueras, harshly criticized the Spanish prime minster, Pedro Sánchez. She censured his role in the Catalan conflict during her speech at the State of the Nation Address. The deputy started her speech warning from the outset that the balance her group makes of the current legislature is clear: "Continuing to give stability to you and the dialogue table means moving away from our main goal, independence". She also said that with Sánchez's government, Catalonia always loses, exemplifying it with issues such as the powers, resources and budgets that Spain allocates to the Catalan territory. Among other figures, she pointed out the 35% rate of fulfilment of investments and that 40% of the oldest trains in the Spanish state are in Catalonia. "Independence means not coming here to beg for crumbs," she said.

Nogueras did not stop there, and during most of her speech she repeatedly charged against Sánchez and his management of the Catalan-Spanish political conflict. Thus, she lamented that with the current prime minister, the Catalan agenda is "the same" as it was previously with Mariano Rajoy, former Spanish prime minster and PP leader, because of still ongoing economic mistreatment, underfunding, contempt, lies and unfulfilled promises. She also criticized that Sánchez speaks of European values (yesterday he did so in reference to the war in Ukraine), while "repeatedly violating" human rights not only in Catalonia, but also in Melilla and in the Sahara. "There's no need to ask us not to speak ill of Spain abroad, you already do the job for us," she said.

She also directly addressed Pedro Sánchez's call for Junts to participate in the dialogue table along with ERC and the Spanish side, when they have already made their positioning clear. In front of Congress, the deputy made it clear again. "Junts will only sit at a real negotiation process. Junts will not act as lifeguard of a table without dialogue, which you have shut down, and by no means will we accept that Sánchez tells us what we can talk about," she concluded. She also pointed out that the Spanish government places its lawyers "next to Vox" in the legal cases against the pro-independence movement, warning that "you can not talk about reunion and dialogue" when they act like this. She also took the opportunity to share her solidarity with the PSOE's partners in government, Unidas Podemos, after it was revealed the group was persecuted by the so-called State sewers, recalling that the Committees for Defence of the Republic (CDR) were also victims. "We will never whitewash that, we will never give stability to that".

La portavoz de Junts en el Congreso de los Diputados, Míriam Nogueras   Europa Press
Junts' spokeperson in Congress, Míriam Nogueras / Photo: Europa Press

A warning to ERC

During her intervention, Nogueras could not avoid addressing Esquerra Republicana (ERC) for its strategy regarding the Spanish State, although she did not refer to them explicitly on most occasions. On the supposed dejudicialization of politics of the independence process to which Catalan minister of the Presidency, Laura Vilagrà, agreed with her Spanish counterpart, Félix Bolaños, last week, she said those who believe in it made her feel "worried", in reference to ERC. She threw another dart against Oriol Junqueras' party to warn that Junts finds "incomprehensible that a part of the pro-independence movement tries to convince people" that the PSOE is any different from the PP in its policy towards Catalonia. As a last reproach, this one explicitly towards ERC's spokesperson in Congress, Gabriel Rufián, she reminded him what the objective of their groups is: "A fiscal reform is not urgent, independence is".

Sánchez's response

A few minutes later, it was Pedro Sánchez who answered Junts' spokesperson, tiptoeing around her criticisms. He focused much of his reply on economic figures and trying to prove that the Spanish State does not leave Catalonia behind in financial matters. However, he criticized Nogueras' group for seemingly remaining "frozen" in 2017. "You have not advanced and are now further away from independence", while he defended that his government wants to reach out to Catalan society. He lamented the position of Junts, who choose not to sit at the dialogue table with the Spanish State. "I would like them to join us to defend their ideas and their approaches," he said, also accusing them of "not recognizing the efforts of the Spanish government" to meet again.

Ferran Bel

In his intervention, PDeCAT's spokesperson in Congress, Ferran Bel, criticized Sánchez's brief mention of the Catalan conflict, and that his "proposals are not even specific". He also charged against the investment figures and budgets, before focusing on the modification of the crime of sedition, which the Spanish prime minster has not started yet, arguing there is no parliamentary majority for its approval. "Formulate a proposal, explore it and maybe there will be a majority, if you truly have the will," said Bel. Finally, he also spoke about the dialogue table announcing his group does support it, but it must be convened more often. "It is like that fruit that has yet to ripen, but will rot in your hands if you do not eat it in time."