Anger, disbelief and resistance. These words best describe the sentiment of many Spaniards as they took to the streets en masse in Madrid on Sunday. They were protesting against Spain pardoning Catalan separatist leaders.
Since the trial of the 12 Catalan separatist leaders, who received long prison terms in 2017, there has been a split between the inhabitants of Spain. Pro-independence parties in Catalonia cannot believe their leaders were imprisoned while fighting for an independent republic.
Still, the prison sentences have not dampened Catalonia’s aspirations for independence. This was again apparent from the last elections in Catalonia.
Sánchez calls on Spaniards to trust him
At the end of May, the Spanish government announced it was considering a pardon for the twelve Catalan leaders. Although the Spanish Supreme Court opposed this, Sánchez said on Wednesday during a state visit to Argentina his government still stands behind this.
He said he understands the sentiment of many Spaniards. However, he is convinced the goal Spain will achieve with this action will be many times greater. Sánchez believes pardoning Catalan separatist leaders will appease the fierce struggle between the Spanish government and Catalonia.
Spaniards are furious with Spanish prime minister
These statements have once again caused great anger from many Spaniards. They took to the streets on Sunday to speak out strongly against this “insane idea” by the Spanish prime minister. “Basta ya!” (Enough is enough now), rung out from tens of thousands of people protesting with Spanish flags, placards and speeches in Plaza de Colón in Madrid.
The organisation Unión 78 called on the Spaniards to protest against Sánchez’s plans. Those present warned Sánchez they will not stop at this one protest in Madrid. “We’ll be back, here and elsewhere in Spain. We are doing everything we can to defend democracy.”
“It’s never enough for the Catalans”
The Spaniards – along with some political parties such as the Partido Popular, Vox and Ciudadanos – are not confident relations between Spain and Catalonia can ever return to normal. “It will never be enough for the Catalans aspiring to independence,” resounded through the streets. People are completely convinced the separatist leaders will do the same again once they are released.