Junqueras's gesture towards pardons

2 min
Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonès this Monday in Barcelona

The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, and the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, met yesterday face to face for the first time since the investiture of the former, in an event organised by employers organisation Foment del Treball. The two staged the thaw that taking place between the executives with a greeting and two speeches in which, without anyone renouncing their positions, constant appeals to dialogue and the need to open a new stage in relations were made. After Friday's phone call and Monday's meeting, the next step will be a face-to-face meeting in Madrid in June. After that, there will be the first official meeting of the dialogue table, which could be after the summer.

All these steps are in the context of a decision of great political scope that the Spanish government is about to take, which is to approve a partial pardon for the nine political prisoners that will allow them not to have to stay in prison any longer. It is a political gesture that is interpreted as a necessary preliminary step to begin negotiations, and this Monday it has received the endorsement, precisely from prison, of ERC president Oriol Junqueras. In an article published in ARA, Junqueras affirms that "there are gestures that can lighten the conflict, alleviate the pain of the repression and the suffering of Catalan society, and any gesture in the line of the de-judicialisation of the conflict helps along this path"

This endorsement of pardons by Junqueras is an important gesture for the Spanish government, which needs, in order to take the step, to know that it will be well received by the prisoners, who until now have been dismissive, or directly opposed, to the measure of grace. In any case, after more than three and a half years in prison, it is clear that no serious dialogue can be started with people deprived of their freedom. The Spanish government is also aware of this, as it sees how its image is being eroded at an international level with each passing day that the pro-independence leaders remain in jail.

In any case, Junqueras goes further in his article and warns, without saying it explicitly but in a clear reference to unilateralism: "other paths are neither viable nor desirable insofar as, in fact, they distance us from the goal to be achieved". In other words, the ERC leader affirms that unilateralism is counterproductive because it distances us from the goal of independence. It is possibly the most explicit amendment Junqueras has ever made to the strategy followed in the months of September and October 2017. It is, therefore, a brave and not risk-free step which he completes by extending his hand "to all those who may have felt excluded" by the way in which the pro-independence strategy was conducted at that time.

This self-criticism is consistent with the reflection that ERC has made in recent years, and it is a pity that there has not been a similar move from the opposite side among those responsible for repression. Even so, the pardons are a first step in the right direction on Sánchez's part. And it should be the first of many.