Junts per Catalunya close European election campaign in London

Arriving to a standing ovation and cries of “independence”, President Carles Puigdemont and ministers Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí brought their whistle-stop tour of European cities to The Wesley Hotel near London’s Euston Station, promising to be the voices of Catalonia’s political prisoners and exiles in the European Parliament.

Introducing them, Anna Forn, daughter of one of those political prisoners, said that the Spanish judiciary’s decision to detain the Catalan politicians, yet to be convicted of any crime, for up to a year-and-a-half (and counting) was “a shame for the European Union”. “But,” she added, “we have three free voices who have challenged the Spanish state from the first moment in exile.”

Forn referred to Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí, who head the list for Junts per Catalunya – Lliures per Europa (“Together for Catalonia – Free for Europe”) in Spain, a country they have not been able to return to since they left for exile in October 2017. Forn’s father, Quim, is the Junts per Catalunya candidate for mayor of Barcelona, an election taking place on the same day as the European Elections in Spain and Catalonia. If elected (and polling suggests he will win a seat in the town hall, but will not come close to the mayoralty), he will not be able to take up his seat or his role, in the same way other political prisoners were prevented from taking their seats in the Catalan Parliament following the election in 2017. He is, however, still allowed to campaign from the videoconference room at Soto de Real prison in Madrid. Like many of the political prisoners, he has appeared via live feed at numerous campaign events in Catalonia’s capital city, and given media interviews, all timed around the tight prison and judicial schedule.

Forn, the younger, said she was in London to give her father the voice he wanted to have, to be the spokesperson for the situation they found themselves in. For her, she said, it was with pride she introduced Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí, members of the government “who made the 1st October referendum possible.” She was not the only one.

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On an evening with Alfred Bosch

I’m writing this article from the warmth and comfort of the 23:25 high speed service from London St Pancras, on what is otherwise a bitterly cold and uninviting evening, after having consumed probably one more white wine than is ordinarily healthy on a school night.

But before I evaluate the events of the past few hours, let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time there was a Catalan politician, candidate for Mayor of Barcelona, and a relatively unknown English blogger with a handful of Twitter followers and an Instagram audience barely reaching into triple figures. Said blogger had a habit of posting an eclectic array of photographs to the photo sharing platform, from political demonstrations to mundane selfies to his latest culinary disasters.

And yet somehow, inexplicably, despite the 1,000 miles separating these two individuals (I may be rounding for simplicity) and despite their markedly different levels of importance, they ended up following each other on Instagram. No one knows for sure how long this unlikely match continued. Legend has it it was only for a few hours, while some will tell you it lasted for many months. All we know for sure is that it happened, and then it ended.

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Can the EU protect our fundamental rights?

This is a translation of an article I wrote for the Catalan newspaper VilaWeb entitled “La UE pot protegir els nostres drets fonamentals?“. VilaWeb publishes some of their own articles in English here.

Two and a half years ago, we Britons voted in the Brexit referendum.

As a democrat, I had always wanted to have the opportunity to vote, the opportunity to decide on our relationship with the European Union. But when this opportunity arrived, I did not know how to vote.

The European Union represents a great co-operation between countries, an economic power in which 28 nations can fight together for their interests, their economies, etc. For its citizens, the possibility of travelling and working in any European country is a right which makes the world – or, at least, the countries of this union – a little smaller and more open. Despite the mottoes of the far-right, were are all one race and we should be brothers and friends. We should live and work together.

At heart, I am a democrat. I believe in the sovereignty of national and regional parliaments. I believe, above all, in democracy. If the European Union wants to represent Europeans, before anything else it has to defend democracy and human rights. It has to defend these parliaments and rights with all of the strength which the member states give it. But it does not.

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VilaWeb: The Moncloa imposes change of name of El Prat airport to Josep Tarradellas

This is a translation of an article from Catalan newspaper VilaWeb entitled “La Moncloa imposa el canvi de nom de l’aeroport del Prat pel de Josep Tarradellas“. VilaWeb publishes some of their own articles in English here.

The Spanish Council of Ministers will today approve the change of name of Barcelona-El Prat Airport, which will be called Josep Tarradellas Airport. Sources at the Moncloa have confirmed the news, adding that ‘it is a decision which is loaded with symbolism, communicated to the Generalitat and the family’.

Indeed, the decision was communicated to the family, who were informed days ago and gave permission to use the name of President Tarradellas. But the Generalitat, according to sources in the Catalan Government, have not been able to have their say, and complain that the change was not agreed upon, recalling that there are naming commissions to manage and work on decisions like this one. The Catalan Government have requested that the Spanish Government rectify the decision and not go ahead with approving the change of name.

The General Secretary of ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia), Marta Rovira, as leader of Tarradellas’ party, has criticised the decision: