LONG LIVE THE SYSTEM

A Streetcar Named Wickedness

Ciudadanos charter a bus to campaign against a hypothetical pardon for Catalonia’s political prisoners

SEBASTIÀ ALZAMORA
SEBASTIÀ ALZAMORA

Following in the footsteps of the Hazte Oir (“Speak out”) platform, who chartered a bus that travelled across Spain proclaiming that girls have a vulva and boys have a penis (and much like the other political parties on the right and the left, by the way), a Ciudadanos bus is being driven around Madrid city calling people to demonstrate against the [hypothetical] release of the Catalan political prisoners and against PM Pedro Sánchez. The demonstration will be held next Saturday and the advertising on the bus includes printed messages that read “No pardons”, “Stop Pedro Sánchez” and “Elections now!”, illustrated with a large picture of a smiling Oriol Junqueras next to one of Carles Puigdemont, looking serious and crestfallen. Puigdemont’s image is a darker shade, too, while Junqueras’ beaming face looks radiant.

The contrast between both photos is very revealing of how Spain’s far-right nationalism no longer has Puigdemont in their cross hairs, but Junqueras. Barely a few months ago, Carles Puigdemont posed such an extremely serious threat to Spain that border security had to be tightened (do I hear “misuse of public funds”?) to prevent him from entering the country secreted in the boot of a car or flying a hang-glider, as minister Zoido speculated. But ever since a German court ruled that the charges pressed against him in Spain were baseless, Puigdemont has ceased to be the nemesis of Spain’s ultra-nationalists (the Public Prosecutor’s statement only mentions him in passing, while Oriol Junqueras faces twenty-five years in jail) and he has passed the baton to his vice president. Junqueras is living the life in Catalonia’s Lledoners prison, where he has been granted no end of exclusive perks and privileges. From Lledoners, Junqueras decides on the Spanish budget and how much cash is transferred to Andalusia’s coffers, now that regional elections are round the corner there. Right from the comfort of his five-star prison, Junqueras has brought Spain’s justice down on its knees thanks to Pedro Sánchez, the figurehead prime minister. And so on and so forth.

Day in and day out, this is the message conveyed by Ciudadanos and the Partido Popular, with the Ciudadanos bus being the cherry on the cake: “Junqueras is laughing at you from his prison cell” is the implied message. The call to demonstrate couldn’t be any more ludicrous: they are encouraging people to rally against a hypothetical pardon by Sánchez’s government, following a trial that hasn’t even begun. At any rate, such a pardon would have to be requested by the political prisoners, once a verdict is handed down, which they have already stated they will not do. In fact, the demonstration is merely an opportunity to say that, after holding them on remand for over a year on charges that are clearly fabricated, they hope the Catalan leaders will rot in jail for the rest of their lives. That’s how appalling and depressing it is. Meanwhile, PP spokesman Ignacio Cosidó fights back by calling PM Sánchez an ally of the coup leaders and foreign minister Josep Borrell gets [Esquerra MP Gabriel] Rufián expelled from the lower chamber as the other lawmakers —including the socialist party’s— give him a big hand, only one day after Borrell crossed the UK and all of the EU with Spain’s ridiculous obstinacy on Gibraltar. Wickedness is a shared thing.

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