Catalan pro-independence supporters march in Barcelona

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By Robert Hackwill
Catalan pro-independence supporters march in Barcelona

One month to go before crucial elections in Catalonia and there has been a show of force by pro-separatists in Barcelona. Ten of thousands marched with Catalan banners, and called for their leader-in-Belgian-exile, Carles Puigdemont, to remain president of the region. Spain’s central governent sacked him from the job and took away local powers following an illegal referendum on independence,

Puigdemont and four other ex-cabinet members are fighting extradition from Belgium. He accused the Spanish authorities of hiding behond the law and avoiding the real issues.

“To be treated like a criminal, like a drug trafficker, like a paedophile, like a serial killer – I think this is abuse. This isn’t politics. This is using the courts to do politics,” said Puigdemont.

The Catalan parliament’s speaker was released from prison on Friday but the terms she agreed to seem likely to prevent her campaigning on a pro-independence ticket in the regional elections. Her party insisted she will lead them in the polls, from a jail cell if necessary, but there will be no grand alliance of all the pro-independence parties, weakening their position.

Eight members of the now-defunct Catalan government remain jailed following the regional Parliament’s October 27 vote to declare independence from Spain. That vote was in response to the referendum on October 1, in which only 42% of electors voted, although those who did backed the breakaway by 90%.