"We do not want a Spain with political prisoners": Podemos and the Catalan and Basque parties join forces in Congress

Podemos, En Comú, Compromís, PDECat, PNB and Bildu MPs protested outside the Spanish Parliament

MARIONA FERRER FORNELLS / DANI SÁNCHEZ UGART

The midday stoppage outside workplaces convened by Òmnium and ANC following the news of the imprisonment of their presidents, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, was also felt in Madrid. MPs belonging to Podemos, En Comú, PDECat, Compromís and the PNB protested outside the Congress of Deputies to show their opposition to a decision they see as "hasty" and "politically motivated" which shows that "there is no separation of powers in Spain", meaning Cuixart and Sànchez are "political prisoners". ERC MPs did not take part in the demonstration following their decision on Monday evening not to attend Tuesday’s plenary as a mark of their disapproval. PDECat’s MPs were in attendance, however.

The MPs’ reaction was in stark contrast to the opinions expressed by PP spokesman Rafael Hernando, who defended the court’s decision by saying "if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime". The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, responded to the news of the arrests from Galicia, where he is visiting the area hit by dozens of forest fires that have so far killed four.

Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos
"I do not want a Spain where there are political prisoners"

"It seems to me extremely worrying that the leaders of Òmnium and the ANC have been sent to prison for having organized a peaceful demonstration. We live in a country where Urdangarin was found innocent, where Rodrigo Rato was found innocent, where Congress has shown that the PP used the Ministry of the Interior to fabricate evidence against Catalan parties and Podemos, in which the Constitutional Court found the Finance Minister had made an unconstitutional fiscal reform, a country where the PP are the ones who are failing to comply with the Constitution, where a gang of corrupt individuals is using the institutions to serve their own ends".

"And in this country where the corrupt and the criminals enjoy impunity, two individuals who are pro-independence —an ideology I do not share since I don’t want Catalonia to leave Spain, though I do think a referendum ought to be held— have been sent to prison. Not for stealing like the PP or for carrying out acts of violence, but for organising a peaceful protest. It's a disgrace".

"I do not want to see a Spain where there are political prisoners, where political problems are met with judicial actions and violence. I want a democratic Spain".

Xavier Domènech, En Comú Podem’s spokesman in Congress

"Now is not the time for dialogue, the conditions are not right"

"Any possibility of dialogue calls for de-escalation, right now no dialogue is possible since the circumstances are not right, with the arrests, which in legal terms are an outrage, being clearly politically motivated. It’s the worst possible scenario for democracy. During the 12 October celebrations, there were journalists who reported that certain members of the government let slip ‘off the record’ that two individuals would be sent to prison. It’s clearly a politically motivated decision".

Carles Campuzano, PDECat’s spokesman in Congress
"It’s a huge mistake that will make dialogue more difficult"

"The decision is outrageous in legal terms and irresponsible in political terms. At a time when there’s a need for de-escalation and for Spain’s government to respond to the Catalan government’s call for dialogue, the fact that yesterday two leaders who represent the largest civil organisations in Catalonia were sent to prison is a huge mistake that will make dialogue even more difficult".

"The Spanish government has entrusted the Criminal Code with providing a solution, while the public prosecutor has made a decision that is totally lacking in credibility. The judge’s ruling has few legal grounds, since holding someone on remand must only be used in exceptional circumstances, and only if there is clear evidence they committed the crime of sedition. It is also open to debate whether Madrid’s National Court is competent to hear this type of crime".

Aitor Esteban, spokesman for the Basque Nationalist Party
"It will do nothing towards helping things calm down"

"To start with, it does nothing towards helping things calm down. The day began with an opportunity for more time for dialogue, but then everything took a turn for the worse. The facts of the case and accusations of the crime of sedition are a clear indication that things have gone seriously wrong. According to this logic, those who tried to stop people from being evicted ought to have been accused of sedition. I hope everything remains calm, since that’s what those who have been sent to prison have been asking for".

"I’m optimistic that things can get back on track and dialogue will win eventually. Invoking Article 155 would worsen the political atmosphere".

"Judicial decisions ought to be adapted to the law. Nobody should try to be holier than thou. The public prosecutor ought to take a more nuanced view".

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