Puigdemont Claims He’s Legitimate President Of Catalonia, Not Seeking Belgian Asylum

Having fled to Brussels to escape rebellion charges and perhaps a lengthy prison sentence, Catalan (ex?) leader Carles Puigdemont, who quietly fled Catalonia over the past few days, held a press conference at the Brussels Press Club. Puigdemont said that the Catalan government sees the upcoming regional elections, called after the imposition of Article 155, as a “democratic challenge” and will accept the results.

In a multi-lingual, rambling speech, Puigdemont - who appears to have almost capitulated in his crusade against Madrid - said he would respect the results of the snap election called by Madrid in response to the declaration of independence by the province’s parliament. He then called on the Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy to say if he would do the same. Puigdemont also reiterated his support for democracy and peaceful resistance to Madrid’s pressure on Catalonia, and said he arrived in the Belgian capital to put the issue of Catalan independence “in the heart” of the European Union.

Confirming that beggars can at least pretend to be choosers, Puigdemont said that "I want a clear commitment from the State, will you respect the results or not?”

Puigdemont said he and his government, which has been sacked by the central government in Madrid, were denouncing “the polarization of the Spanish justice system” in dealing with the political crisis and wanted to “show the world the serious democratic deficit that exists in the Spanish state.”He said the province’s deposed leadership would submit to Madrid’s order to hold an emergency parliamentary election on December 21, and respect its result. “I would like to ask the Spanish government a question: Will it do the same?”

Asked on several occasions if he would return to Spain to face criminal charges where he could be behind bars for up to 30 years, Puigdemont said he would return once he had "legal guarantees", and that was the reason for the group's decision to travel to Brussels.

When asked whether he will be seeking political asylum in Belgium, Puigdemont said he did not go to Brussels for that reason. Puigdemont is facing criminal charges for disobeying the Spanish government in pursuit of Catalan independence, including for appropriation of budget funds to hold a referendum on the issue. Puigdemont said he and his government left Barcelona to avoid possible violence, should the Spanish government try to arrest them. He added that he would return to Catalonia, if given “guarantees” of safety.

On its Twitter site, The Spain Report, translated some of Puigdemont’s sound bites from the press conference:

  • Puigdemont says there was a declaration of independence on Friday.
  • Catalan government chose "avoiding violence" as its priority after declaring independence on Friday.
  • Catalan government could have chosen to "force civil servants" into confrontation with Spain, but chose not to…republic cannot be built from violence.
  • Puigdemont says he is the legitimate President of Catalonia
  • …he does not want to elude his legal responsibilities
  • Puigdemont says Catalan people have in front of them a state that only understands violence
  • …title of Public Prosecutor's document, "harder will be the fall", shows Spain looking for "revenge", not justice.
  • BBC asks Puigdemont if he is ready to go to jail for 30 years, Puigdemont hands microphone to other former regional ministers, who waffle
  • Former Catalan regional interior minister Forn says (in French) that Spanish government wants to jail them "like terrorists".
  • Puigdemont says the problem started on October 1 with "violence from the Spanish side".

Meanwhile, it’s clear that there’s no softening of Madrid’s stance as the Catalan government website remains offlineshutdown.

Comments

Thought Processor slickrick Tue, 10/31/2017 - 10:48 Permalink

 "Has any president ever returned from exile?" The only one I can think of is Gorbachev (but notice he didn't exactly 'return' did he, but he is certainly still alive and breathing).  He landed safely in the U.S. and lives in the Presidio in San Fran.  You can guess who arranged all of that. But yeah, Belgium asylum sounds like a deal with the devil.  You're gonna end up dead either way. 

In reply to by slickrick

Teja Thought Processor Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:12 Permalink

Wrong question. While Exile Governments rarely get their powers back after returning, they keep the political situation open. Think of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Exile government. Or the Polish Exile Government, participating in WW II on the side of the Allies, e.g. in Italy.It is surely more important to Puigdemont to support Catalonian independence than to advance his career.Seen from this perspective, Puigdemont's agreement to support the elections in December is not stupid. A new government of Catalonia will be seen as the Government of the Catalan Republic by many, and the elections as a kind of referendum. The polls are saying the separatists will loose their majority? We will see.If the new government is pro-independence, then it will have a mandate to negotiate with Spain as the Government of the Catalan Republic, at least morally. And it does not need to declare independence for this, because the Puigdemont government already has done so. And even if the new government is anti-independence, PP, PSC and C's, it will have to ask for (and get) meaningful concessions in the direction of more autonomy.

In reply to by Thought Processor

LightBulb18 Teja Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:47 Permalink

Now it becomes A question of are the catolons ready to fight for their freedom, are they willing to die for it? He can arm up the police or the people. It would be beneficial for some catalones to die because it would make the spanish and the european union look like tyrants. They may back down if faced with real casualties. In G-d I trust.

In reply to by Teja

Vageling Joe A Tue, 10/31/2017 - 10:35 Permalink

This guy is a special kind of stupid. With his oxymoron "peaceful rebellion". Running to Belgium after declaring independence all the way to accepting elections which were triggered by Madrid... Isn't that like accepting you're fired? He makes no sense.  The guy is NutZ. And as long as he's not convicted he's eligible to take part in the elections as well.  What a clownshow. He's a joke. Pacifist nutjob. They should drop the bomb on him and ask him how his pacifist bullshit worked out for him. Wonder what kind of stupid bullshit comes out of his mouth then. Some (dys)(u)topia is my guess. 

In reply to by Joe A

Col_Sanders Joe A Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:36 Permalink

Actually it may not be that bad of an idea. 

  1. If Spain lets the pro-independence parties run, and they win, then they are back to square one. 
  2. If Spain lets the pro-independence parties run, and they lose, then he will admit that independence wasn't what the people wanted.
  3. If Spain refuses to let the pro independence parties run, or otherwise interferes (including vote fraud) then he can wave that banner as Spain preventing real "democratic process" - which will piss people off and make them more likely to support Catalonia's bid to secede.

 I have to think he knows (or at least believes) that either 1 or 3 (or some mixture of the two) are the most likely outcome which is why he is asking that the government of Spain declare publicly that they will abide by the results.

In reply to by Joe A

msamour Tue, 10/31/2017 - 10:29 Permalink

Perhaps if enough people boycott Spanish products and industries, the Spanish can be made to see the error of their ways. Regardless of the position one takes on this. Anytime you use violence to supress the free will of a population it eventually comes back to bite you. If enough little people get together and send the message loud and clear that there will be no business conducted with anyone and everyone that supports faschist behaviour, then the pressure should be kept on financially on the Spanish businesses, and by extension the Spanish government to cease and desist its violent actions. How to tell if boycott movements are effective? Easy! See how violently Israel reacted to the BDS movement. It pressures government around the world to ban the BDS movement, and to violate the countries freedom of speech, and other civil rights to ensure people do not have a chance to promote the Israel BDS. Boycoting Spanish products and institution will eventually become the only real mean for "little people" to effect change in the Spanish regime...

Tennessee Patriot Tue, 10/31/2017 - 10:44 Permalink

Chuck,Get your tired politician ass back to Catalonia, stand up in the Main Square of Barcalona & say to Spain; "Come at me, Bro & see what happens". Otherwise, shut the fuck up.  You get everyone all riled up with promises of Independence & then run away like a pussy? That's not how real Statesmen do it.  You think Washington, Churchill or anyone else would have run away?  They would have stood up to the bullies. Better re-think your priorities, Jack. 

seabass974 Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:52 Permalink

Im sure hes just arranging with Brussels membership of the Euro and bagging his seat next to Spain in the European Parliamemnt .. then they can get down to the serious business of forming his (diverse) cabinet, putting in the framework for dealing with sexual harrassment cases within the EU and other top priority issues of the EU (can't remember what others but there are some)

Overflow Tue, 10/31/2017 - 12:06 Permalink

He says he could choose to make civil servants what????   LOL!!! Poor idiot.  Nobody cares any more in SPain. Even the most determinated secessionists gave up and accepted reality, except this clown.  Soon he well be lika that japanese soldier still hidden in a lost pacific island five years after the WWII ended.

Overflow Tue, 10/31/2017 - 13:55 Permalink

Hey! ZHers can take a look at the catalan secessionist forum (google_translated) to get first hand updates of "rebellion" going on, and show some empathy with the kids. World Snowflakes Unite!https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=es… Poor people, really.  Read this boy I am for the boycott, but I do not know or I do not see very clear how it is done. Indefinite general strike? Where can I get my Catalan card? How can I change the payroll taxes to pay them here and stay here? Do not buy Spanish products? Make me the list, which should not be easy. The only boycott I'm doing is not buying any Spanish lottery, which is the only one I've seen feasible for me. I do not know, I have many questions and no answers. My day to day is the same. I feel a little lost, That someone helps me, that I do not know how to make independence effective, and it makes me very angry. They've been lied so deep and so long...