Belarra argues that "normalizing" the situation in Catalonia also implies that exiles can return

The minister says it would be an "incongruence" to support "ending the judicialization" and at the same time defend the arrest of Puigdemont

2 min
The aspirant to lead Podem and Minister of Social Rights, Ione Belarra, to the Moncloa

In the midst of the controversy over the granting of pardons to political prisoners, the Minister of Social Rights, Ione Belarra, of Unidas Podemos, has gone further and has defended that "normalizing" the situation in Catalonia also implies that the exiles can return. Belarra said that "it is not normal" that they are not in the Spanish state and stressed that the fact that they left was "derived from the process of judicialization" of the conflict. In an interview this Thursday with RAC1, the minister and next leader of Podemos has argued that pardons are a way to "move forward", since "the freedom of prisoners is a condition of the possibility for dialogue to bear fruit" and to be able to "solve a problem that is eminently political". But she added that it would be an "incongruence" to support "ending the judicialization" and at the same time defend the arrest of Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsatí and Toni Comín if they returned.

The hitherto leader of Unidas Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, who still acts as second vice president of the Spanish government, already defended in January, during an interview on the program Salvados of La Sexta, the return of the exiles. In some controversial statements, which brought criticism from the triple right but also from PSOE, Iglesias compared the ex President Puigdemont and other pro-independence leaders to the exiles of Franco's regime. The socialists have so far separated the situation of prisoners from that of the exiles. The minister spokeswoman, María Jesús Montero, made it clear last week that the process of pardons does not affect Puigdemont. "The criterion of the government of Spain is that he has to be tried by the Spanish justice system," she said during the press conference of the council of ministers, where she was confident of obtaining extradition soon.

Be that as it may, in recent days there have been nuances in the position of the Socialists, which seemed unshakeable. The most obvious evidence was given by the head of PSC, Salvador Illa, during Tuesday's interview on TV3. After reaffirming his rejection of an amnesty because, he said, "it does not fit in our framework of coexistence", he was also sympathetic to the situation of the exiles, although he said he did not recognize this term. "I understand the situation they are going through", he said. In this sense, and referring to the criminality reforms for sedition worked on by the Ministry of Justice, he spoke of "adjusting" certain types of criminal offences, implying that the modification of the Penal Code could favour the return of the ex President and the rest of the pro-independence leaders in exile. Even so, he recalled that - unlike the pardons - this is a decision that requires a majority vote in Congress.