Exiled Catalan government minister Clara Ponsatí has been chosen as Person of the Year by the Scottish daily The National. "There really was only one choice for us", says the newspaper, due to Professor Ponsatí's "extraordinary campaign" to avoid extradition to Spain.
The Scottish newspaper defines Ponsatí as a "determined but ever-smiling woman who underwent a horrendous ordeal", as a result of being one of the "leading figures" in the Catalan independence referendum of 2017, in her role as Catalan education minister. She had occupied the post for only three months but that was enough to "turn her into a target." The newspaper adds that Ponsatí, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and other ministers had to flee to exile, while the government ministers who remained in Catalonia are now in prison.
Ponsatí herself expressed her gratitude in social media for all the support received, reiterating that she won't give in until "we are all free in the Catalan Republic". For his part, Ponsatí's lawyer, Aamer Anwar, also spoke of his pride at seeing Ponsatí as the Person of 2018 on the front page of the newspaper.
Proud to see that @ClaraPonsati is the @ScotNational person of 2018 in this Sunday’s paper- ‘A courageous woman who took on the Spanish state and won’ #LlibertatPresosPoliticsiExiliats🎗 https://t.co/HlpLZhvIa3 pic.twitter.com/YUokD2uI1V— Aamer Anwar🎗🌹 (@AamerAnwar) 28 de desembre de 2018
Currently, Ponsatí lives in Scotland, having returned to the teaching role at the University of Saint Andrews which she held prior to accepting the Catalan ministerial post. It was at Saint Andrews that her defence against extradition began, with a crowd-funding campaign. That legal fight, led by Aamer Anwar, ended in victory when the Spanish government withdrew its extradition demand, after suffering rejection of similar demands against other exiled Catalan politicians by courts in Germany and Belgium.
She continues the struggle, having recently taken part in the launch of the new organization set up to fight for the Catalan Republic from exile, the Council for the Republic. In a recent interview with El Nacional, she spoke frankly about what she sees ahead for Catalonia: "I don't see the kingdom of Spain agreeing on a democratic transition with Catalonia. I can't see it. Sometimes things move very quickly, but..." For that reason, she believes that "a real republic" must emerge - and until it exists she doesn't believe she'll be able to set foot in her homeland.