Cataluña UDI pardons under scrutiny

Separatists’ amnesty turmoil

PSOE GRANDEES: Former president Felipe Gonzalez and vice-president Alfonso Guerra during their time in government Photo credit: CC/José María Cuadrado. Ministerio de la Presidencia. Gobierno de España

DESPITE the furore inside Spain, Cataluña’s UDI of October 27, 2017, was  never going to succeed.

That much was obvious from the shellshocked faces of Carles Puigdemont, then president of Cataluña’s regional government, and vice-president Oriol Junqueras following the parliamentary session which voted in favour of an independent republic.

Puigdemont was already hedging his bets with a strategy closer to farce than a heroic struggle against tyranny.  His lame announcement was merely a mini-UDI as he declared that he had accepted the mandate of the people for Catalonia to become an independent state.

That was what the pro-separatists – less than half of Cataluña’s population – were waiting for although their euphoria plummeted immediately.

“I intend to ask Parliament to suspend the effects of the declaration of independence so that we can undertake dialogue in the coming weeks,” Puigdemont added.

There was no dialogue and instead he hightailed it out of Spain on October 30, fleeing in an unmarked car to Belgium, with the help of a few officers from Cataluña’s regional police, the Mossos d’Esquadra.

He did so to evade arrest, shortly after Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular government invoked Article 155 of the Constitution, suspending Cataluña’s status as an autonomous region with the blessing and votes of the PSOE opposition.

Eight other members of the regional government, including Oriol Junqueras, were less inclined to run and remanded without bail on November 2.  Five more were detained in March 2023.

Tried by the Supreme Court, they received sentences ranging from nine to 13 years for sedition and the misappropriation of public funds used to organise the unauthorised and shambolic referendum of October 1.

All were freed after Rajoy’s successor Pedro Sanchez pardoned all the UDI politicians in June 2021.

The Constitution was also amended, with sedition redefined as “aggravated public disorder” and sentences for misuse of public funds were reduced when not used for personal profit.

A poll revealed that more than 60 per cent of the Spanish opposed the initiative.  They included PSOE voters and veteran politicians like former president Felipe Gonzalez and his vice-president Alfonso Guerra.

Neither has held their tongue regarding the pardons or Pedro Sanchez’s attempts to woo Junts per Catalunya into backing his current attempts to form a government. Nor has the PSOE’s Emiliano Garcia Page, regional president of Castilla-La Mancha, hidden his distaste for the pardons.

An impervious Sanchez always insisted that this would ease tensions between the central government in Madrid and Cataluña and by and large, time has proved him to be correct.

Predictably, the PP and Vox who opposed the pardons, plus three members of the now-defunct Ciudadanos parties, appealed against them to Spain’s Supreme Court.

The tribunal will begin examining the amnesty on September 14 and should the appeal be upheld all those who were pardoned will return to prison in a move that will do nothing to ease tensions in Cataluña.

None of which would sit well with Carles Puigdemont’s demands for his own amnesty and an end all to proceedings against Catalan separatists in exchange for supporting Pedro Sanchez’s investiture.


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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at