A verdict that threatens our liberties

The verdict in the case of the social and political Catalan leaders has been handed down. The sentences imposed are harsh. They are an embarrassment for Spanish democracy which, paradoxically, is weaker today. The pro-independence elected officials and grassroots leaders will spend many years in jail —nearly one hundred years, if you combine their sentences— for having allowed a debate in parliament, for having channeled the democratic demand of over two million people, for having made a vote possible.

Junqueras, Forcadell, Forn, Turull, Cuixart, Sànchez, Bassa, Romeva and Rull have all been sentenced to spend between nine and thirteen years behind bars. They channeled a peaceful social demand that culminated in the 2017 referendum, when Catalonia saw the only violence recorded to date.

The rest is merely political spin that uses the justice system to try to thwart a peaceful, democratic movement. Today Spain is weaker and the Spanish know that their State continues to rule by force over many Catalans who feel increasingly disenfranchised as time goes by.

Despite the feelings of impotence, injustice and abuse, today is the day when Catalonia’s reaction must remain exemplary. This verdict weakens Spanish democracy in a country where individual liberties are ever more restricted. The State has evidently accepted to pay a price in terms of democratic weakness, but it doesn’t realise just how high this will be. In Catalonia every day more and more people are drifting away from Spain.

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