Madrid rejects Puigdemont’s call for talks in Catalan referendum crisis
Alex Lantier and Alejandro López
17 October 2017
On Monday, Spain’s Popular Party (PP) government rejected Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont’s call for a two-month period of negotiations with Madrid after the “yes” vote in the October 1 Catalan independence referendum. With Spanish armored forces and thousands of police preparing for action, Spain is on the brink of martial law and a military crackdown in Catalonia.
After Puigdemont declared on October 10 that Catalonia had won the right to declare its independence, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy set a deadline of October 16 for Puigdemont to clarify whether he had in fact declared Catalan independence. When Puigdemont did not provide a yes or no answer, apparently trying to avoid a confrontation, the PP escalated the conflict on Monday. Reiterating its threat to suspend Catalan self-government, it jailed Catalan nationalist politicians and denounced the October 1 referendum as a Russian-backed provocation.
In a letter, Puigdemont stated: “When on the 10th of October, due to requests from numerous international, Spanish and Catalan institutions and people, I proposed a sincere offer of dialogue, I did so not as a demonstration of weakness, but rather as an honest response to find a solution to the relationship between the Spanish state and Catalonia, which has been broken for many years.”
Calling for a two-month negotiation period, he said, “The priority of my government is, with all our strength, to find a path for dialogue.” Criticizing “the brutal police violence exercised on the peaceful people on October 1,” he asked Madrid to “reverse the repression of the Catalan people and government.”
The PP government,…