Category Archives: Spain

(EP) Sánchez confiesa su inspiración en el proyecto moderno y europeo de Costa

(EPLos presidentes socialistas de España y Portugal refuerzan su visión “ibérica” en Europa sobre inmigración, el euro y las conexiones energéticas.

Antonio Costa junto a Pedro Sánchez. ANTONIO COTRIM (EFE) / VÍDEO: EFE

Pedro Sánchez pudo cumplir al fin su deseo de expresarle en persona al primer ministro portugués, el también socialista Antonio Costa, que ha sido una fuente de inspiración para él por su manera de encarar el proyecto “progresista, modernizador y europeísta” que tiene para su país. El presidente español anhela esa misma visión para España. Y defiende que algunas políticas e iniciativas que se esgrimen por Costa desde Portugal, como la lucha contra la precariedad laboral, los acuerdos sociales y la redistribución de la riqueza, las quiere hacer suyas en España. A Sánchez no solo le agradan las orientaciones políticas de Costa sino especialmente sus formas y su talante. Costa gobierna en Portugal con un partido similar a Podemos y Sánchez aprovechó para argumentar que le gustaría impulsar en España más acciones políticas con la formación que lidera Pablo Iglesias.

Era una visita esperada y pendiente, que Sánchez intentó en el pasado varias veces y que se frustró por diversos motivos. Los jefes de gobierno ahora de España y Portugal ya habían coincidido en el pasado en actos de los socialistas europeos, en Bruselas, y la semana pasada en la cumbre comunitaria. Aquella fue una sesión larga e intensa que sirvió para comprobar que junto a los intereses comunes en varios ámbitos podría fructificar, además, alguna estrategia conjunta.

Costa, para empezar, se adhirió a la alianza que tejieron el español Sánchez y el presidente francés, Enmanuel Macron, en París, para encarar soluciones conjuntas y europeas a la actual crisis migratoria. Costa abogó también por la necesidad de dotar a la Unión Europea de “una nueva vitalidad, más fuerte y más unida, para enfrentar esos grandes retos” y con un espíritu solidario. Fueron palabras muy similares a las utilizadas estas semanas atrás por Sánchez.

El jefe del ejecutivo español agradeció a Costa su respuesta, su actitud y su proyección al “lanzar ese mensaje de compromiso ibérico con un país y un gobierno hermano”. Fue ahí cuando alabó las políticas de Costa, “su tono y sus buenos deseos”. Y cuando reconoció que para su labor se ha “inspirado mucho” en sus actuaciones y en su “proyecto progresista, modernizador y europeísta, que es el que queremos para España”. El líder del PSOE defendió que ambos países, gobiernos y partidos “tienen muchos puntos en común” y mencionó expresamente la respuesta al fenómeno de la inmigración. Portugal va a organizar al respecto una cumbre euroafricana el próximo10 de julio y aunque Sánchez no acudirá España sí enviará representación.

En la cita en la que Pedro Sánchez sí estará será la prevista para el 27 de julio, en Lisboa, con Francia, para abordar el tema recurrente de las conexiones energéticas entre la península ibérica y el territorio francés. El presidente español reveló que Costa fue el primer mandatario extranjero que le llamó a La Moncloa en cuanto triunfó en España la moción de censura que le llevó al poder y ya le anticipó entonces la necesidad de que se desplazase a esa cumbre enérgética con Macron. El presidente francés aprovechará el viaje para pararse el día anterior, el 26 de julio, en Madrid y cumplimentar a Sánchez con una visita oficial en La Moncloa.

Sánchez quiere cuidar al máximo una relación privilegiada ahora con Macron, especialmente en este momento de debilidad de la Unión Europea y de crisis interna de la canciller alemana Angela Merkel, y ese eje pretende alargarlo hasta Lisboa, sobre todo para contar en algunas ocasiones con el apoyo de otro dirigente socialista en Europa. España organizará en el segundo semestre de 2018 la cumbre bilateral con Portugal, que estaba pendiente.

Los piropos entre Sánchez y Costa fueron variados. Es verdad que en el pasado Costa también engarzó una relación muy especial y particular con el expresidente conservador español Mariano Rajoy, del PP. El propio líder del PSOE aceptó que los lazos entre los dos países trascienden lo partidista e ideológico. Eso sí, no se privó de subrayar: “De mi amigo Antonio aprendo todos los días”. El jefe del ejecutivo portugués también confesó que esa relación especial se ha cimentado desde la transición democrática en España y luego tras su entrada conjunta en la UE, en el euro y sigue vigente ahora en muchas citas de la Comisión y el Consejo Europeo. Pero Costa sí quiso dejar constancia de un aviso hacia las corrientes nacionalistas y populistas que están frenando ahora el proyecto europeo: “Hay más ambición que presupuesto y tenemos que tener un proyecto común a la ambición de Europa”.

Pedro Sánchez, incitado por esa idea, intentó insuflar algo de optimismo frente a los escépticos que solo destacan ahora los problemas de esta Europa en crisis. El presidente español sostiene que “Europa tiene más resiliencia de lo que parece ante la opinión pública y de lo que algunos desearían” aunque, eso sí, alertó de que “con los egoísmos nacionales y las respuestas unilaterales no se puede progresar porque somos demasiado pequeños para los desafíos globales”. Frente a los que han cuestionado que Sánchez ha sido demasiado complaciente y buenista en su estreno en las cumbres europeas, y en particular por los acuerdos que suscribió con Alemania para acoger algunos refugiados procedentes de ese país, el líder español ratificó su “actitud constructiva y leal de decir claramente las cosas” pero no “aquiescente con la Unión Europea”.

(EUoberver) Basque threat of ‘second front’ for independence

(EUoberver)

The human chain stretched over 200km from Donostia (known in Spanish as San Sebastian) to the Basque parliament in Gasteiz (Photo: Gure Esku dago)

Revellers packed the narrow streets of Bilbao’s old district, oblivious to the drizzle as live music reverberated throughout parts of the Casco Viejo neighbourhood.

Earlier that day, most had joined a 200km human chain of 175,000 people demanding the Basque country be given a “right to decide” in its future relations with Madrid.

“We want to decide on whether we want an independent, federal, or confederal state, or any other type of relationship,” said Angel Oiarbide.

Oiarbide is spokesman of a movement known as the Gure Esku Dago (Basque for ‘It’s In Our Hands’), which had organised the human chain on Sunday 10 June.

He told this website that Sunday’s procession is feeding into a current Basque parliament debate that aims to create a new political status for the region.

The move comes over a week after Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy stepped down in disgrace amid widespread corruption charges within his conservative Popular Party (PP).

Spanish socialist leader Pedro Sanchez had managed to cobble together a coalition of smaller groups, including Basque nationalists and Catalan separatists, to oust Rajoy from office in a no-confidence vote.

It also comes after the Basque Eta separatist group officially disbanded and apologised for killing some 800 people over its four-decade armed struggle.

But Oiarbide insisted that the Gure Esku Dago, as well as Sunday’s procession, are unconcerned by the wider political change in Madrid – saying their work is unaffected by who is in power at the Spanish capital.

“We, alongside the Catalan people, shall continue working on the creation of a democratic culture in our countries,” he said.

The response from Madrid over the Basque demonstration appears more subdued.

Spanish minister of territorial policy, Meritxell Batet, in a Spanish radio interview said the government was not opposed to the demonstration and is open to dialogue with everyone.

“I respect it and do not have much else to add. I hope that political tension will be reduced everywhere,” she said noting, however, that self-determination for the Spanish regions is not a part of the government’s programme.

The issue is making others nervous, including the president of the Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz.

Lambertz had arrived in Bilbao a few days after Sunday’s march to take part in an event organised by Council of European Municipalities and Regions.

Citizen is ‘final judge’?

The same day he met with president of the Basque government, telling EUobserver that questions of autonomy and independence are decisions that belong to the people and their political representatives.

“It is necessary that the final judge of all this is happy, and who is the ‘final judge’? It is [the] citizen. That is something we sometimes forget in this debate,” he said.

With broad oversight over its fiscal and tax collection policies, the Basques have more autonomy from Madrid compared with Catalonia.

But not everyone in the Basque country is seeking independence from Spain. One poll, carried out by the university of Deusto late last year, suggested only 17 percent support independence.

Those figures are however disputed by Gorka Elejabarrieta, who heads the international department of Sortu, a Basque socialist political party.

“Ever since Franco died the absolute majority of people in this country [the Basque country] voted for parties that stand for independence,” he said.

Elejabarrieta, himself an advocate for independence, says they have nothing against Spain or Spanish people but warned that a second front, after Catalonia’s push for independence, is on the rise.

He said people want the right to have an open debate on the issue, noting similar movements in Scotland and Denmark’s Faroe Islands where the discussions were allowed to take place without the state jailing politicians.

“We want to open a second front within the Spanish state and we want to bring our process to the same situation where the Catalan process is,” he said.

(BBC) Mariano Rajoy: Spanish PM forced out of office

(BBC)

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano RajoyImage copyrightEPA
Image captionMr Rajoy has been prime minister for more than six years

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has been forced out of office by a no-confidence vote in parliament.

Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez, who filed the motion after Mr Rajoy’s party was implicated in a corruption scandal, will become prime minister.

“We’re going to sign a new page in the history of democracy in our country,” Mr Sánchez said ahead of Friday’s vote.

Mr Rajoy is the first prime minister in modern Spanish history to be defeated in a no-confidence motion.

The leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP) has been prime minister since 2011.

During the second day of debate on Friday, Mr Rajoy admitted facing defeat and told MPs that it has been “an honour to leave a better Spain than I found”.

Mr Sánchez secured a majority in the vote after gaining support from various smaller parties, including the Basque Nationalist Party – 180 MPs backed the motion, 169 voted against, with one abstention.

Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy (L), shakes hands with the leader of Spanish Workers' Socialist Party (PSOE) Pedro Sanchez (R), after the no-confidence motion was passed 01 June 2018Image copyrightEPA
Image captionMr Rajoy (left) wished his replacement, Socialist Pedro Sánchez, good luck

Why was the vote called?

Mr Sánchez says Mr Rajoy, 63, had failed to take responsibility for his party’s involvement in the scandal, which hit the headlines again last week after one of its former treasurers was given a 33-year jail sentence.

The High Court in Madrid convicted Luis Bárcenas of receiving bribes, money laundering and tax crimes.

The case centred on a secret campaign fund which the PP ran from 1999 until 2005.

Many Spanish voters, exasperated by corruption scandals involving the traditional centre-right PP and centre-left Socialist parties, have abandoned them for newcomers like the left-wing Podemos (We Can) and pro-market Ciudadanos (Citizens), as well as regional parties.

Presentational grey line

Who is the new prime minister?

Analysis by Guy Hedgecoe, BBC News, Madrid

Spanish Socialist Party PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez attends a debate on a no-confidence motion in Madrid on May 31, 2018Image copyrightAFP

Pedro Sánchez emerged as a virtual unknown to win the Spanish Socialist party premiership in 2014. The photogenic economist and former basketball player won members over with a promise to unite a divided party and put the Socialists back in power.

Yet he subsequently suffered two humbling election defeats, in 2015 and 2016. He was eventually forced to resign after his refusal to back Mariano Rajoy in an investiture vote plunged the country into a prolonged political stalemate and his party into bitter infighting.

Months later he confounded his many critics by returning to win the Socialist primary. Spain’s constitution states that the party presenting a no-confidence motion must be prepared to govern and replace the deposed prime minister if a parliamentary majority backs it.

Therefore this moderate but ambitious 46-year-old from Madrid is set to be Spain’s new prime minister, despite the fact that his party commands less than a quarter of seats in Congress.

Presentational grey line

What happens now?

Mr Rajoy’s departure casts the EU’s fourth-largest economy into political uncertainty.

Mr Sánchez is expected to be sworn in at the weekend and to name a cabinet next week.

Although he leads the Socialist PSOE party, he is not a member of parliament. Correspondents say that with only 84 lower house seats, the party will struggle to find allies to get legislation enacted.

Mr Sánchez is expected to get support from Podemos. Smaller groups – including Basque and Catalan nationalists – supported the no-confidence motion, but it is unclear whether they will back the new government.

The Ciudadanos party, which had been doing well in opinion polls, supported Mr Rajoy.

+++ (BBG) Spain’s Nonperforming Loans Drop to the Lowest Level Since 2011

(Bloomberg) — Nonperforming loans in Spain fell to the lowest level in almost seven years in March as a growing economy allows banks to shed the soured assets that piled up on their balance sheets during the country’s financial crisis.
Defaulted loans fell to 6.8 percent of total loans in March, the lowest since June 2011. The stock of NPLs fell by 25.5 percent to 83.3 billion euros ($97 billion) from a year
earlier, the biggest annual drop since records began in 1963.
Banco Santander SA on March 26 sold Blackstone Group LP a majority share of the non-performing real estate business it assumed when it acquired Banco Popular Espanol SA last year.
Spain’s banks have struggled to generate lending revenue as a combination of low interest and the legacy of Spain’s credit boom and bust that led to a banking bailout in 2012 weighs on the industry. But lower levels of household debt and an expected rate hike by the European Central Bank next year are raising anticipation that the credit market in Spain is on the verge of a new period of growth. Earnings for banks in the first quarter
were driven by lower loan-loss provisions as banks continued to mend their balance sheets.

(Reuters) Spain’s PM Rajoy under growing threat over party graft case

(Reuters) Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was threatened with two separate no-confidence motions on Friday, after a graft trial involving members of his party in which a judge questioned the credibility of his testimony.

The opposition Socialists presented their motion to parliament, while the centre-right Ciudadanos – Rajoy’s former ally – issued him with an ultimatum.

“If Rajoy does not call snap elections we would be ready to put forward (our own) motion of no confidence in order to hold elections,” Jose Manuel Villegas, a senior member of Ciudadanos, told a news conference.

Twenty-nine people related to Rajoy’s People’s Party (PP), including a former treasurer and other senior members, were convicted on Thursday of offences including falsifying accounts, influence-peddling and tax crimes. They were sentenced to a combined 351 years behind bars.

The case, which relates to the use of a slush fund by the Conservatives in the 1990s and early 2000s to illegally finance campaigns, has plagued Rajoy since he came to power in 2011. He has always denied wrongdoing.

Rajoy became the first sitting prime minister in Spain to give evidence in a trial when he was called as a witness in the case last year, prompting calls for him to resign.

TIPPING POINT

In his ruling, the judge said there was evidence the party ran a slush fund for many years and that the credibility of Rajoy’s testimony denying it “should be questioned”.

“(His) testimony does not appear as plausible enough to refute the strong evidence showing the existence of a slush fund in the party,” the judge said.

Rajoy was already under fire for his handling of the secession crisis in Catalonia, with many voters turning away from the PP to Ciudadanos.

Hours before the court ruling was made public on Thursday, Rajoy suggested he would run for a third term in an election due by mid-2020, but political observers said he was now likely to face an internal challenge in his party.

Ciudadanos helped the PP pass this year’s budget bill as recently as Wednesday.

“It is clear that yesterday’s ruling marks a tipping point in our relationship with the governing party,” Villegas told COPE radio on Friday.

“The ruling is serious enough for us to sit down, reflect and take decisions.”

(Politico) German prosecutors push for Puigdemont extradition

(Politico) German state’s prosecutors want to send former regional president back to Spain in the light of new video evidence.

German prosecutors are preparing the paperwork to extradite former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont back to Spain on charges of rebellion and disturbance of the peace, they said in a statement Tuesday.

However, a German court on Tuesday ruled that Puigdemont — who was detained by German police in March — cannot be rearrested because he does not pose a flight risk.

The state of Schleswig-Holstein’s highest regional court had previously ruledthat Puigdemont couldn’t be extradited on charges of rebellion because of a lack of evidence of “sufficient violence,” but it would review the request for extradition for misusing public funds.

But the state’s prosecutors want to send the former regional president back to Spain in the light of new video evidence which they say shows “violence perpetrated against the Spanish police forces.”

+++ (BBG) Catalan Cause Ripples Across Europe With Surrender in Scotland

(BBG) A former member of the Catalan government that tried to declare independence from Spain turned herself in to Scottish police after a judge in Madrid ordered her detention on a European warrant.

Clara Ponsati, head of education policy in Carles Puigdemont’s government, handed herself in at an Edinburgh police station on Wednesday morning. She was later granted bail at the Sheriff Court and told to surrender her passport.

German highway police detained Puigdemont on Sunday as he attempted to drive from Finland to Belgium and he is now being held in jail on remand while a judge considers Spain’s request to return him to Madrid to face prosecution for rebellion.

The bid to bring Puigdemont and Ponsati, an economics professor in Scotland, back to Spain means the legal crackdown on Catalonia’s secession drive is now being played out on a European stage.

Puigdemont’s arrest on Sunday sparked a riot in Barcelona that led about 100 people to seek medical attention and prompted sporadic protests including blockades of Catalan highways. The Catalan parliament passed a motion on Wednesday backing the right of Puigdemont and other separatist leaders to become regional president even while in jail.

Viable Candidate
The government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said the regional parliament must now focus on electing a viable candidate who’s not under prosecution and that it will keep emergency powers to govern Catalonia in place until it does so.

Puigdemont and members of his circle face trial not because of their ideas but because of their serious acts against the constitutional order, government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said Tuesday.

The bid to bring Ponsati to Spain to face trial has caused an outcry in Scotland, which held its own, legal, independence referendum in 2014, when 55 percent to 45 percent voted to remain in the U.K.

Ponsati is an economics professor at the University of St. Andrews, which has said it is “deeply concerned by recent developments, their motives and potential consequences.”

A small group of demonstrators gathered outside the court in Edinburgh on Wednesday to protest the extradition request. They flew Catalan independence flags and Scottish saltires.

“We strongly oppose the Spanish government’s decision to seek the arrest and imprisonment of independence supporting politicians,” Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose nationalist party runs the government in Edinburgh, said in a statement. “The fact that our justice system is legally obliged to follow due process in the determination of extradition requests does not change those views.”

+++ (NYT) Arrest of Catalan Leader Tests Spain, Separatists and E.U.

(NYT) MADRID — After months of political turmoil in Catalonia, Spain’s central government is hoping for a clear victory at last over the region’s separatists — this time in a courtroom, with the trial of the top separatist leader, who has been arrested in Germany on a warrant issued in Madrid.

But if that leader, Carles Puigdemont, who was seized on Sunday, is returned to Spain, a highly publicized trial could backfire on the government by galvanizing the separatist movement and prolonging a dispute that threatens Spain’s geographic cohesion.

Since 2012, the governing politicians in Madrid and Barcelona have talked past each other rather than negotiating, allowing a dispute that initially focused on Catalan demands for better tax treatment to spiral into a secessionist challenge. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has insisted on treating the dispute as a law-enforcement problem rather than mostly a political one.

Spanish courts declared Catalonia’s independence referendum last year illegal, and the central government’s heavy-handed attempts to block the vote only angered many in Catalonia.

On Friday, Pablo Llarena, a Spanish Supreme Court judge, ordered the arrest of five separatist politicians, and reactivated an international arrest warrant against Mr. Puigdemont, a former president of Catalonia, and five other politicians who had fled Spain to avoid prosecution.

The Spanish authorities have accused Mr. Puigdemont of rebellion and misuse of public funds, and a German regional court will decide within 60 days whether to send him back to face trial. But if the court chooses to extradite him only for the corruption charge, that would create a political and legal bind for the Spanish government, which would be barred from trying him for rebellion, the charge at the heart of the matter.

“Spain is creating a situation where Europe’s judges rather than its politicians are being asked to solve Catalonia,” said Sergi Pardos-Prado, a professor of politics at Oxford University. “At a time when the European Union needs more legitimacy and to reconnect with its citizens, how can this not make it seem like a distant and technocratic project?”

Photo

The prison in Neumunester, Germany, where the former Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, is detained. A regional court will decide within 60 days whether to extradite him to stand trial in Spain.CreditJens Schlueter/EPA, via Shutterstock

On Monday, Gonzalo Boye, a lawyer who represents two of the politicians wanted by Spain, told the Spanish news media that he was confident a foreign judge would not allow his clients to stand trial for rebellion. He even asked whether “Judge Llarena isn’t our best friend, because things are being handled in the worst possible manner.”

Mr. Puigdemont’s arrest has thrust Catalonia back onto the European agenda, potentially testing relations between Germany and Spain, after European governments had mostly managed to ignore the separatists’ political aspirations. The case also raises questions about whether Europe has a unified conception of the rule of law, and how it will respond to other secessionist movements.

Madrid is also seeking the arrest of other Catalan separatists who are in Scotland, Belgium and Switzerland, where officials have so far questioned whether their legal systems require the separatists’ extradition based on the rebellion charges brought by Spain. Mr. Puigdemont himself had been based in Belgium, where the European Union is headquartered, since late October. While Belgium never considered him a flight risk, a German judge has ordered that he should be provisionally kept in prison for that very reason.

The arrest comes at a particularly combustible time for the European Union, which is coping with Britain’s pending exit from the bloc, a right-wing populist upheaval in Italy, growing labor unrest in France, frictions between Brussels and the increasingly authoritarian governments of Hungary and Poland, and a growing clash with Russia.

It is also a difficult time for the Catalan separatists, who appear to be running out of options within the country’s political framework. After a botched declaration of independence in October, and new regional elections, the three separatist parties have been unable to resolve disputes among them and elect a new Catalan president.

Mr. Puigdemont and other separatists claim that Spain cannot give them a fair trial. That accusation is dismissed in Madrid as yet another affront by politicians who have repeatedly flouted court rulings in their drive toward independence.

“We can debate the specific approach of the prosecution and the judges, but there are strong legal grounds for this case,” said Enrique Gimbernat, professor of criminal law at Complutense University in Madrid.

Photo

Protesters and police officers in Barcelona on Sunday. The risk for Spain of trying Mr. Puigdemont is that the case could galvanize the separatist movement in Catalonia.CreditLluis Gene/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Still, several Spanish legal experts acknowledge that state prosecutors are pushing the Supreme Court into uncharted waters. They also note that, however many Catalan politicians are tried and convicted, imprisonment is not a viable alternative to a political solution that Mr. Rajoy has failed to reach.

Mr. Rajoy dissolved the parliament of Catalonia, which represents one-fifth of the Spanish economy, and called new elections in December, which served only to confirm the profound split in Catalan society. Mr. Puigdemont and other separatists retained their narrow parliamentary majority, with almost exactly the same share of votes — 47.5 percent — as two years earlier.

“It seems absolutely counterproductive to use criminal law and this court to solve a politico-constitutional conflict,” said José Antonio Martín Pallín, a former judge of the Supreme Court.

Since Friday’s court decision in Madrid, protesters have been back on the streets of Barcelona and other cities. Roger Torrent, the pro-independence speaker of the Catalan Parliament, is pushing for lawmakers to elect Mr. Puigdemont in absentia, though the former president has recently said he is no longer a candidate; opposition lawmakers want Mr. Torrent to resign, instead.

Separatist lawmakers have two months to form an administration or force new elections.

“Puigdemont’s arrest does not bridge the divisions between secessionist parties over what to do next,” Antonio Barroso, a political analyst at consulting firm Teneo Intelligence in London, wrote in a note on Monday.

The politics of Spain have also shifted: Mr. Rajoy now leads a minority government, and his center-right People’s Party finished last in the Catalan election. He risks being outflanked by a center-right party, Ciudadanos, that was founded on an anti-secession platform and won the most votes in Catalonia in December.

“One can be critical of the leaders on both sides and how they have handled every part of this conflict, but I don’t think this should be seen through the lens of a conflict between the rule of law and democracy,” said Alan Solomont, a former United States ambassador to Spain who is now dean of the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. The better lens, Mr. Solomont argued, was that “Catalonia is a region, subject to the Spanish Constitution of 1978, and a national government always has the right to enforce national law.”

Photo

Supporters of Catalan independence protesting in Barcelona on Sunday. Separatists, split into three parties, retain a majority in the regional Parliament but have been unable to resolve disputes and elect a new Catalan president. CreditFelipe Dana/Associated Press

In 2014, Catalonia’s government defied Madrid by staging a nonbinding vote on independence. Catalonia’s leader at the time, Artur Mas, was later barred from office for organizing an unconstitutional vote.

In October, Spain’s attorney general decided to prosecute Catalan leaders for rebellion, though Spain’s legal code had been revised to emphasize violence as a component of rebellion. The crime carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.

The Spanish authorities are also widening the investigation, looking into Catalan media executives and officers in the region’s autonomous police force, and raiding offices in search of evidence linked to the referendum last October. So far, their findings fill 15,000 pages of police reports.

Javier Ortega, a leader of Vox, a small far-right party, described the drive for Catalonian independence as ”a failed coup d’état, led by people who had already set up all the structures of a parallel state.”

Vox is a fringe party. But in his ruling last week, Judge Llarena drew a thinly veiled comparison between last year’s events in Catalonia and an aborted military coup in Spain in 1981.

Mr. Puigdemont, who had traveled to Finland, left that country on Friday, driving across Scandinavia, with officers of Spain’s secret service following him. He was detained after crossing into Germany, whose criminal code, Spanish authorities believe, will allow for his extradition.

Christian Mölling, the research director of the German Council on Foreign Relations, said he saw no reason Mr. Puigdemont would not be extradited to Spain.

“If we pass this onto politics, it would be a declaration of bankruptcy for the judiciary,” he said. “We have courts precisely to depoliticize things.”

+++ (NYT) Germans Arrest Former Catalan Leader, Drawing E.U. Into Fight

(New York Times) — MADRID — Carles Puigdemont, the former
leader of Catalonia wanted in Spain on rebellion charges, was detained on
Sunday in Germany on an international arrest warrant, in a move that drags
Berlin into Spain’s festering territorial dispute.
Mr. Puigdemont was arrested by a German highway police patrol soon after
crossing the border with Denmark. He was traveling by car to Belgium from
Finland, and had planned to present himself to the Belgian authorities,
according to Mr. Puigdemont’s lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas.
The arrest came two days after Spain, trying to strike a decisive blow
against the secession movement, reactivated a European arrest warrant against
Mr. Puigdemont and five other separatist leaders.
Catalonia has been in political turmoil since its leaders formally
declared independence in October and the central government ousted them,
assuming direct control of the wealthy autonomous region. Madrid also moved to
prosecute Mr. Puigdemont and his allies for rebellion and sedition, prompting
some to flee to several other European countries.
Now, with Spain renewing its efforts to have the former Catalan officials
arrested and returned home for prosecution, Europe may be about to become more
embroiled in the conflict.
Whether Spain’s newly aggressive posture would weaken the independence
movement or strengthen it was not immediately clear.
In Catalonia, the effect of Mr. Puigdemont’s arrest was immediate.
Protesters took to the streets of Barcelona and clashed with the authorities.
Riot police officers in Barcelona shoved and struck protesters with batons to
keep an angry crowd from advancing on the office of the Spanish government’s
representative. Police vans showed stains of yellow paint reportedly thrown by
protesters.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain did not respond immediately to Mr.
Puigdemont’s arrest, but Albert Rivera, leader of the anti-secession party
Ciudadanos, welcomed it.
Mr. Rivera accused Mr. Puigdemont of trying to “destroy a European
democracy” and said that “for this, you can’t enjoy impunity,” he argued.
Roger Torrent, the pro-independence speaker of the Catalan Parliament,
went on Twitter on Sunday to urge fellow Catalans to form “a common front” to
defend individual and collective rights.
Mr. Puigdemont was arrested Sunday morning on the A7 autobahn. He was
transferred to a jail in Neumünster, in the northern German state of
Schleswig-Holstein, according to the German news agency D.P.A. He was to
appear before a German judge on Monday.
The government of Catalonia has been in a deadlock since December, when a
snap election called by Prime Minister Rajoy resulted in separatist parties
retaining a narrow parliamentary majority. Last week, however, separatist
lawmakers could not agree on the latest candidate to replace Mr. Puigdemont as
regional leader, Jordi Turull.
Unable to win at the ballot box, Spain’s central government seems to be
turning its attention to the courts. In addition to reissuing the arrest
warrants for the fugitive separatists, it also jailed without bail five still
in Spain. One of them was Mr. Turull.
Mr. Puigdemont, the embodiment of Catalonia’s aspirations for
independence, announced in early March that he was giving up his efforts to be
reappointed as the region’s president. But he continued his efforts to promote
the Catalan separatist cause internationally, traveling to Switzerland and
Finland to attend conferences there.
When he arrived in Brussels, Mr. Puigdemont said he could not get a fair
trial in Spain. He also said he had selected Brussels, home to the main
European Union institutions, because he wanted to put Catalonia in the
“institutional heart of Europe.”
Mr. Puigdemont received some support from Flemish nationalists and other
separatist politicians across Europe, but his call for the European Union to
mediate in Catalonia fell on deaf ears. No European government leader agreed
to meet him.
But in a column on Sunday in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung,
Thomas Urban said Mr. Puigdemont had managed to “internationalize” the Catalan
conflict, and that this “cannot be in the interest of Madrid.” He argued that
Madrid’s hard line risked reuniting the pro-independence movement, only days
after the bickering separatists could not agree on a new leader.
On Saturday, Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation said it had
received the warrant for Mr. Puigdemont’s detention issued by Spain, but the
police said they had no knowledge of his whereabouts. According to Spanish
media reports, Mr. Puigdemont’s car was trailed by the Spanish secret service
as it left Finland, who alerted their German counterparts about his arrival.
With Mr. Puigdemont’s arrest in Germany, the spotlight now turns to
judges in European countries who will review Spanish arrest warrants,
including in Belgium, Scotland and Switzerland. The countries the separatists
chose for refuge is important, because European nations have different
criminal codes. Some may not recognize the charges brought by Spanish state
prosecutors against the Catalan politicians, particularly rebellion.
The arrest in Germany could pose a challenge for Angela Merkel, who
started her fourth term as chancellor this month at the helm of a coalition
government after months of tense negotiations.
“Legally, the arrest of Mr. Puigdemont is not objectionable, but
politically it creates great problems,” a member of Parliament from the Free
Democrats, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, told The Augsburger Allgemeinen Zeitung,
a regional paper, on Sunday.
In Scotland, the police said that the lawyer for one fugitive there, the
former Catalan education minister, Clara Ponsati, had been in touch with them,
and that they were preparing for her to turn herself in.
In December, Pablo Llarena, the Spanish Supreme Court judge who is
leading the case against the Catalan separatist leadership, withdrew his
initial European arrest warrant against Mr. Puigdemont and others who fled to
Belgium, amid concerns that the Belgian judiciary might seek to limit the
crimes for which the separatists could be charged if they were returned to
Spain.
Altogether, the Spanish Supreme Court is seeking to try 25 Catalan
separatist leaders for violating Spain’s Constitution during their
unsuccessful secession attempt.
State prosecutors in Spain have moved to sentence the separatist leaders
to decades in prison for organizing the independence referendum in October
that they say violated Spanish law. The separatists followed the referendum
with their declaration of a new Catalan republic.
Mr. Puigdemont is among 13 defendants who are accused of rebellion, the
most serious charge, as well as other offenses that include the misuse of
public funds to host the referendum.

+++ (BBG) Catalan Separatists Face Reality Check After Puigdemont Held

(Bloomberg) — Carles Puigdemont’s removal from Catalonia’s
political scene to a German jail forces the separatist movement
to take a decision: keep bickering on the way ahead, or set
aside outstanding differences and form a regional government.
The former Catalan president’s detention in Germany on
Sunday was hailed by anti-separatist forces as a decisive blow
against the push for Catalan independence. In a boost for
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Puigdemont now exits the
political stage, at least for now, and is unable to influence
events in Barcelona.
Yet pending Puigdemont’s return to Spain, the risk is his
detention acts as the catalyst needed to pressure sparring
separatist camps into unity three months after regional
elections.
“The state is attacking the heart of democracy making a
general cause against its political adversaries,” Roger Torrent,
the speaker of the Catalan parliament, said in a televised
statement. He called for a common front to help preserve Catalan
democracy rights and liberties.
Spain is struggling to move on from the events of late last
year when the force of separatist sentiment in Catalonia ran
into the rock of the central government in Madrid’s refusal to
allow Puigdemont’s attempt to split the region from Spain.
Protests on Sunday night on the streets of Barcelona that left
about 100 people seeking medical attention and blockades of
Catalan roads were a reminder the wounds remain far from healed.
“At first sight, it all looks such a mess,” said Caroline
Gray, lecturer at Aston University in the U.K. who specializes
in nationalist movements. “But the fact is that political life
goes on and Catalonia still needs a government.”
The murky picture extended into markets, where Spanish
government bonds were little changed as investors weighed the
Catalan news against a sovereign upgrade from Standard & Poor’s
late Friday. Spain’s bonds even outperformed their Italian
counterparts amid investor concern over the makeup of Italy’s
next government.
While the images of protesters clashing with riot police is
negative, the most likely outcome from the latest Catalan flare-
up could be new regional elections, Adrian Zunzunegui, head of
Iberian equity at Kepler Cheuvreux, said in a note to clients on
Monday.
“Looks like the separatist movement is falling apart,” he
said. “Noise is bad news in any case. Uncertainty will last for
at least another two months.”

Highway Arrest

Puigdemont was held by German highway police on Sunday near
the Danish border after attending a weekend event in Finland. He
has been living in exile in Brussels since October, when Rajoy
used emergency powers to sack the Catalan president and disband
his government after his attempt to declare a republic, an act
in breach of Spain’s constitution.
While Madrid went about restoring Spain’s constitutional
order in Catalonia, judges began a crackdown that culminated in
a Supreme Court judge declaring on Friday that Puigdemont and
other separatist leaders would face prosecution for rebellion.
It was another blow to the secessionist campaign that has
been in limbo since separatist parties emerged with a narrow
majority in December’s regional elections. With Puigdemont in
self-exile and other leaders abroad or in jail, they have so far
failed to form a government.
An attempt to elect as president Jordi Turull, the
spokesman of Puigdemont’s former government, failed last week
when the radical separatist party CUP abstained from voting for
him. Turull was himself jailed on remand on Friday, forcing the
Catalan parliament to abandon a second attempt to hold a vote to
make him president.
One outcome could be that CUP deputies rethink their
decision to abstain, Gray said. Eyes will also be on the
Catalunya en Comu platform linked to the anti-austerity party
Podemos to see if they might support efforts to elect a
government.

‘Big Hit’

Puigdemont’s detention is a “big hit” for the separatist
movement because he has been central to its narrative in recent
months, said Pablo Simon, a political science professor at
Carlos III University in Madrid. Even so, it may also help to
focus their energies on ensuring a new government is formed, he
said.
To be sure, not everyone is convinced that Puigdemont’s
detention changes things much.
“In the short term, it will lead to calls for the
separatist movement to be more united,” said Antonio Barroso, a
political risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London. “In the
end though, the internal divisions are there and I don’t think
they’re going to disappear.”
Catalonia’s deadlocked politics have implications across
the Spanish political spectrum. The tough legal crackdown on
separatism sits badly with the Basque nationalists whose votes
Rajoy’s minority government needs to pass a budget and other
important legislation. That friction may mean that a regional
government in Catalonia ultimately helps Rajoy’s case with the
Basques.
The Catalan crisis has meanwhile helped Ciudadanos, the
pro-Spain force that won the most votes of any party in the
regional elections, vault over Rajoy’s People’s Party to take
the lead in national opinion polls. Its leader Albert Rivera
celebrated Puigdemont’s detention Sunday in a tweet that said
“the flight of the coup-monger is finished.”

+++ (BBG) Puigdemont Extradition Bid May Spark Long German Court Battle

(Bloomberg) — Spain’s effort to get hold of former Catalan
President Carles Puigdemont will start a cascade of court
procedures in Germany that could drag on for months.
Puigdemont, who was arrested on Sunday as he crossed into
Germany from Denmark by car, will first appear before a judge on
Monday who will issue a preliminary ruling on whether he can be
held in custody. That hearing isn’t public and will take place
in the town of Neumuenster where the Catalan politician is
currently held.
German prosecutors will then start the process of handling
the Spanish request to return him to Spain to face trial on
rebellion charges. Spain issued a European Arrest Warrant, which
aims to simplify and speed up extraditions between member states
of the European Union. Nevertheless, German law requires that a
court must clear any extradition, a procedure which can take
several weeks or months.
The former Catalan president’s detention in Germany was
hailed by anti-separatist forces as a decisive blow against the
push for Catalan independence. In a boost for Spanish Prime
Minister Mariano Rajoy, Puigdemont now exits the political
stage, at least for the short-term, and is unable to influence
events in Barcelona.
The Schleswig Higher Regional Court will first have to
decide whether Puigdemont can be held in custody while the
proceedings are pending, said Michael Rosenthal, a German
defense lawyer. The judges could decide to grant him bail and
order some provisional measure ensuring he will stay in Germany
while his case is pending.
Prosecutors in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, where
Puigdemont is held, will first have to check on their own
whether there are legal reasons to block his extradition. If
not, they will ask the Schleswig Higher Regional Court to clear
it. Puigdemont’s lawyers will have the opportunity to present
their arguments against it. If the judges rules against him, the
defense can appeal to Germany’s constitutional court.
Even after the court has ruled that there aren’t any legal
obstacles to an extradition, Germany has some political leeway
to oppose and block it, said Rosenthal. While the authorities of
Schleswig-Holstein will have to rule on this, they have to
liaise and consult with the German federal government.
Past proceedings over European Arrest Warrants have in some
situations taken months, if not years. In a case against four
traders charged in the U.K. for rigging interest-rate benchmarks
at Deutsche Bank AG, the U.K. had issued an arrest warrant in
May 2016. The men, all German citizens, weren’t put in custody
and fought their extradition which was finally blocked by a
Frankfurt court in February, almost two years later.

+++ (JN) Juros da dívida espanhola em mínimos de 16 meses após subida de rating pela S&P

(Jornal De Negócios)  —  Os juros associados à dívida
pública espanhola seguem em queda generalizada, contrariando a tendência
registada na maior parte dos países da Zona Euro. A justificar esta tendência
está o facto de, na sexta-feira passada, a agência de notação financeira
Standard & Poor’s ter elevado em um nível a classificação atribuída a
Espanha de “BBB+” para “A-“.
Nesta altura, a taxa de juro associada às obrigações de dívida
espanhola no prazo de referência a 10 anos está a recuar 1,4 pontos base para
1,255%, isto depois de esta manhã a “yield” já ter tocado nos 1,240%, o menor
valor desde 9 de Novembro de 2016.
A perspectiva de que a S&P iria aumentar o “rating” atribuído à dívida
espanhola já tinha contribuído para que nas duas últimas sessões da semana
passada os juros a 10 anos tivessem recuado, pelo que esta segunda-feira, 26 de
Março, é o terceiro dia consecutivo de queda das “yields” espanholas.
Em menos de duas semanas, a rendibilidade exigida pelos investidores para
comparem dívida espanhola com maturidade a 10 anos no mercado secundário
recuou de 1,4% para a casa dos 1,2%.
Em Janeiro, a agência Fitch já havia aumentado o “rating” de Espanha,
sendo que no próximo dia 13 de Abril será a vez de a Moody’s se pronunciar
sobre a dívida pública espanhola.
O reforço da confiança das agências de notação financeira na dívida
espanhola permite aos investidores mais conservadores apostarem nos títulos
soberanos espanhóis, o que está de certa forma a compensar a incerteza
provocada pelo bloqueio político que se vive na Catalunha, região autonómica
que continua a ser governada por Madrid e que corre o risco de ter de realizar
novas eleições antecipadas nos próximos meses.Em sentido inverso seguem os
juros associados aos títulos da dívida portuguesa que, no prazo a 10 anos,
sobem 1,9 pontos base para 1,740%. O mesmo para as “bunds” germânicas que sobem
0,6 pontos base para 0,533% e para os juros das obrigações italianas a 10
anos que sobem 2,5 pontos base para 1,903% numa altura em que ganha força a
possibilidade de acordo de governo entre o Movimento 6 Estrelas de Luigi Di Maio
e a Liga Norte de Matteo Salvini.

(EP) Salvador Sobral prepara una extensa gira por España

(EPEl ganador de Eurovisión actuará en los festivales de jazz de Valencia y San Sebastián.Salvador Sobral.

El cantante portugués Salvador Sobral ya prepara la vuelta a la carretera, y principalmente es española. El ganador del último festival de Eurovisión, que en diciembre pasado cambió de corazón, regresará a los conciertos poco después de Eurovisión, el 26 de mayo, en Ponta Delgada, en Las Azores, aunque antes reaparecerá en el festival que le encumbró.

Después de otro concierto en Évora, el 23 de junio, Sobral comenzará una larga gira por España durante los meses de junio y julio. Entre otras ciudades, el cantante portugués que odiaba Eurovisión, actuará en Málaga, Barcelona, Valencia, Cartagena y San Sebastián, en esta ciudad y en Valencia sus actuaciones se enmarcan en los festivales de jazz, estilo en el que Sobral se encuentra más confortable.

Hasta su triunfo en Eurovisión, la carrera de Sobral se desarrollaba en los pequeños circuitos jazzísticos, nunca con un público multitudinario, como le ocurrió tras su arrollador triunfo en Eurovisión, donde fue el artista más votado en la historia del festival. El pasado viernes actuó por sorpresa en Cádiz, junto al grupo La Canalla.

Salvador y su hermana Luísa, compositora de la ganadora canción Amar por los dos, actuarán en la final del festival de Eurovisión, que se celebra en Lisboa el 12 de mayo.

La radiotelevisión pública portuguesa RTP ya ha elegido a su representante para esta edición, Cláudia Pascoal, que interpretará la canción El jardín, al igual que la de los Sobral, en portugués. La canción sigue la tendencia del año anterior, una canción intimista y lenta, buscando repetir el éxito que consiguió Sobral.

(JN) Espanha ameaça prender Puigdemont caso viaje para a Dinamarca

(JNO presidente deposto do governo catalão, que está na Bélgica desde Outubro, tem participação prevista numa conferência na Dinamarca, esta segunda-feira.

O Ministério Público espanhol anunciou este domingo que, se Carles Puigdemont viajar da Bélgica para a Dinamarca – onde é suposto participar num debate – irá ordenar a detenção do presidente deposto do governo catalão.

 

Puigdemont está em Bruxelas desde Outubro, depois de o seu governo ter declarado a independência da região no dia 27 desse mês, na sequência de um referendo considerado ilegal pelas autoridades espanholas.

O Supremo Tribunal espanhol emitiu um mandado de prisão internacional contra Puigdemont, mas retirou-o em Dezembro para evitar o risco de as autoridades belgas lhe concederem asilo.

Agora, o Ministério Público diz que, se o líder do Juntos pela Catalunha sair de Bruxelas, solicitará imediatamente ao juiz responsável pelo caso para restabelecer o mandado e pedirá às autoridades dinamarquesas que o detenham.

 

A Universidade de Copenhaga confirmou, na sexta-feira, que Puigdemont deverá participar num evento organizado pelo seu departamento de ciência política, na segunda-feira: “Catalunha e Europa numa encruzilhada para a democracia? Debate com Carles Puigdemont”.

 

O advogado do presidente deposto da Catalunha, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, disse à rádio pública catalã, este domingo, que o risco de o seu cliente ser preso na Dinamarca é “bastante alto”, embora também acredite que as autoridades dinamarquesas recusarão cumprir qualquer mandado de detenção.

+++ O.P. (EXP) Parlamento defende necessidade do Governo pressionar Espanha para fechar Almaraz

O.P.

Estou inteiramente de acordo que haja uma fiscalização a sério (a sério nunca houve) sobre as águas do Tejo, e subscrevo integralmente todos os esforços para que a Central Nuclear de Almaraz seja encerrada, e por completo.

Portugal não tem energia nuclear por opção.

Mas é como se tivesse…

Ou pior…

A Central de Almaraz tem problemas constantes e recorrentes por ter uma tecnologia muito antiga.

Já há muito que foram ultrapassados todos os prazos de vida da central definidos aquando da sua construção.

Uma central nuclear a 100 kms de Portugal e a 300 kms de Lisboa e no maior rio da Península Ibérica que justamente desagua em Lisboa…

Nunca devia ter sido construída!

As Autoridades do País vizinho afirmam que não existe qualquer problema de contaminação radioactiva.

Mas o que é facto é que existem dezenas de reportagens sobre a população da zona.

Que descrevem uma situação totalmente diferente…

Um elevadíssimo numero de doenças , algumas delas raras, gado que não come e morre, pequenos animais que morrem precocemente, terrenos que se não podem utilizar etc.

E agora há a decisão de lá construir um cemitério nuclear…

O problema é de ambos os Países.

Urge é ser resolvido.

A bem de todos.

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(EXPParlamento defende necessidade do Governo pressionar Espanha para fechar Almaraz.

A Assembleia da República defendeu esta quinta-feira a necessidade de o Governo adotar, em parceria com o congénere espanhol, medidas de combate à poluição do rio Tejo e de insistir no encerramento da central nuclear espanhola de Almaraz

O tema de Almaraz foi abordado esta tarde no Parlamento na sequência da discussão de uma petição, da autoria do movimento ambientalista ProTejo, e de seis projetos de resolução.

O texto da petição exorta o Governo português a insistir junto do Governo espanhol na necessidade de proceder ao fecho da central nuclear de Almaraz e a atuar junto das instâncias europeias para que seja cumprida a Diretiva Quadro da Água e feita “uma fiscalização ambiental mais rigorosa à poluição do rio Tejo.

Os projetos de resolução apresentados pelos grupos parlamentares, que serão votados na sexta-feira, foram igualmente no sentido de a tutela tomar uma posição mais forte junto de Espanha para que seja encerrada a central nuclear e pelo aumento das medidas de vigilância e de ação ambiental.

Nesse sentido, durante a discussão, houve um consenso alargado de todas as bancadas para a necessidade de o Governo atuar “com mais firmeza” na defesa do Tejo.

Portugal chegou a apresentar à Comissão Europeia uma queixa contra Espanha, mas acabou por retirá-la depois de um acordo patrocinado pelo executivo comunitário que previa a realização de um estudo de impacto ambiental transfronteiriço, em que o grupo de trabalho criado pelo Governo português considerou o projeto “seguro e adequado”.

A central nuclear de Almaraz localiza-se em Espanha, a 100 quilómetros da fronteira com Portugal.

+++ (BBG) Rajoy Says Spain Won’t Yield to Blackmail by Catalan Separatists

(Bloomberg) — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy set in
motion the process for convening a new Catalan parliament and
said he wouldn’t allow a new separatist administration to
blackmail his government.
A session to swear in lawmakers in Barcelona will take
place on Jan. 17 before a vote days later to appoint a new
regional president if there is a candidate, Rajoy said in an
end-of-year news conference in Madrid.
Rajoy dissolved the Catalan parliament in October after
drawing on emergency constitutional powers to respond to a
unilateral declaration of independence from Spain. Elections
held last week in the region produced a majority for parties
that support independence in a result that threatens to prolong
a secession crisis that is damaging Spain’s economy.
“I hope that very soon in Catalonia we can count on a
government dedicated to reversing the grave social and economic
effects of the crisis of recent months,” Rajoy said. “There’s no
room for more appeals for rupture or illegality because the law
will not allow it.”
Choosing a president for Catalonia won’t be easy for the
pro-independence parties with former President Carles Puigdemont
in Brussels avoiding arrest and his former deputy, Oriol
Junqueras, already in jail. A Supreme Court judge is
investigating whether the campaign to split from Spain amounted
to a rebellion against the government.
Rajoy said his most pressing task for the start of the year
would be the need to build consensus for his minority government
to pass a budget for 2018.

+++ (BBG) Portuguese Bonds Slide as Periphery Slumps After Catalonia Vote

(Bloomberg) — Portuguese 10y yields hit their highest in a
week as Spain’s Catalonia election acts as a catalyst to unwind
some of the gains surrounding Fitch Rating’s upgrade last week.
Moves amplified amid scant trading ahead of festive holidays.
* Portugal 10y yield +11bps to 1.87%, highest since Dec. 14, day
before upgrade
* Country’s bonds still yield less than those of Italian peers;
Italy 10y yield +3bps to 1.93%
* NOTE: Spanish bonds initiate slide after separatists won back
control of Catalonia’s parliament and opened the door to further
political uncertainty in the nation’s largest regional economy

+++ (BBG) Spanish Court Withdraws European Arrest Order Against Puigdemont

(Bloomberg) — A Spanish judge withdrew a European arrest order against ousted Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont in a maneuver that may affect his strategy for
fighting regional elections due later this month.

Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena rescinded the European warrant for Puigdemont, who was planning to fight the Dec. 21 elections from Belgium on a ticket to keep pushing for Catalonia to secede from Spain. Llarena’s decision also applies to four other former regional government officials who are with him in Belgium.

Llarena said he’d taken the decision to allow the investigation against former Catalan officials accused of crimes including rebellion for their bid to break with Spain to proceed in a coherent way. Puigdemont still faces arrest if he returns to Spain, an official at the Supreme Court said by phone Tuesday.

“This leaves Puigdemont’s legal strategy in limbo,”said Ignacio Molina, senior analyst at the Madrid-based Elcano Institute. “He was betting authorities in Belgium would
contradict the charges issued by the Spanish justice. Now he’s alone.”

Puigdemont fled to Brussels at the end of October as the Spanish government invoked constitutional powers to sack his government and call new regional elections.

The withdrawal of the the arrest order comes a day after Llarena decided to keep four pro-independence campaigners including Oriol Junqueras, the former vice-president in
Puigdemont’s government, in jail on remand as investigations continue.

On Monday, a court in Belgium postponed a decision on a request made by another Madrid judge to send Puigdemont and the other officials back to Spain. His defense lawyers argued against extradition saying the alleged crimes under investigation aren’t punishable in Belgium. The court was scheduled to make a decision on Dec. 14.

(RR) Puigdemont renuncia à pensão de ex-presidente e não aceita destituição

…renuncia à pensão de ex Presidente mas quer receber a de deputado…

(RRO presidente regional exonerado refugiou-se na capital belga depois de o Governo espanhol ter decidido intervir na região, tendo demitido o executivo regional, dissolvido o parlamento da Catalunha e convocado eleições para Dezembro.

Foto: Olivier Hoslet/EPA
Foto: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

Carles Puigdemont renunciou à pensão a que tem direito como ex-presidente do governo catalão, não aceitando a sua destituição e considerando que ainda dirige o executivo “legítimo” daquela região espanhola.

“O Estado continua a ser uma máquina para humilhar instituições e cidadãos. [O ministro responsável pela Fiscalidade, Cristóbal] Montoro deveria dedicar o seu tempo a recuperar o dinheiro perdoado do resgate bancário”, afirmou Puigdemont numa mensagem no Twitter, na qual renuncia à sua pensão de ex-presidente.

Segundo a imprensa regional catalã, Puigdemont deverá pedir para receber o salário de deputado regional durante os meses que decorrem até ao começo da nova legislatura na Catalunha, que deverá acontecer em Janeiro próximo, na sequência das eleições de 21 de Dezembro.

Uma directriz do Ministério das Finanças espanhol solicitava na passada terça-feira para Puigdemont esclarecer se pedia o estatuto de ex-presidente, o que implicaria que acatava de forma implícita a ordem constitucional e reconhecia que foi afastado do cargo que ocupou.

Dito de outra forma, o líder separatista teria de reconhecer, ao contrário do que afirma, que já não é o “presidente legítimo” da Catalunha.

A Lei (regional) sobre o Estatuto dos Ex-presidentes da Catalunha prevê que, depois de abandonarem o cargo, estes têm direito a receber um montante correspondente a 80% do salário que recebiam quando ocupavam o lugar.

O salário de Carles Puigdemont era de 140.000 euros brutos por ano, ao qual corresponde uma pensão anual de 112.000 euros, ou seja, mais de 9.000 euros brutos por mês, pensão que não pode manter se tiver um cargo público ou se participar no conselho de administração de uma empresa.

Puigdemont continua a apresentar-se como o presidente em exercício da Catalunha e anunciou, quando chegou a Bruxelas (Bélgica), que tinha a intenção de criar uma estrutura estável do “governo legítimo”.

O presidente regional exonerado refugiou-se na capital belga depois de o Governo espanhol liderado por Mariano Rajoy, em 27 de Outubro, ter decidido intervir na região, tendo demitido o executivo regional, dissolvido o parlamento da Catalunha e convocado eleições para 21 de Dezembro.

Estas medidas foram tomadas no mesmo dia em que o parlamento catalão declarou a independência da Catalunha na sequência de um referendo de autodeterminação organizado pelo governo regional e considerado ilegal por Madrid.

(BBG) Spanish Judge Signals Path That May Free Catalan Politicians

(Bloomberg) — The Spanish judge investigating ousted
members of the Catalan government said she was in favor of
grouping all cases into a single probe in a decision that could
see them freed before regional elections on Dec. 21.
Carmen Lamela, a judge in the National Court, said the
suspects were part of a complex conspiracy and the best way to
examine it would be through a combined investigation. That could
see the case against former officials that she is handling
transferred to Spain’s Supreme Court, which has taken a more
lenient approach, freeing Carme Forcadell, the speaker of the
Catalan Parliament, on bail while she is investigated.
“Given the Forcadell precedent it looks likely that the
others will be released and will be able to campaign,” said
Elisa de la Nuez, a state attorney who edits the Hay Derecho
legal blog. “That’s a more comfortable outcome for everyone.”
While Lamela has sent eight former Catalan government
officials, including ousted Vice-President Oriol Junqueras, to
prison on remand, a Supreme Court judge set Forcadell free on
bail after she said she would abide by the Spanish constitution.
The Supreme Court Prosecutor’s office said in a report that
the court should only probe suspects such as elected officials
who have been granted immunity from trial in a lower court. A
big investigation should be avoided as it would slow down the
trial, the prosecutor said.
Ousted Catalan President Carlos Puigdemont and members of
his government are under investigation for rebellion, sedition
and misuse of public funds for organizing an illegal referendum
and declaring Catalonia’s independence last month. Lamela has
also issued a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont, who fled
to Belgium last month to attempt to set up a shadow Catalan
government in exile.
The suspects “form part of an organization that acted with
a single purpose with a single plan and the attribution of tasks
and responsibilities to achieve the secession of the autonomous
region of Catalonia and its proclamation as a single republic,”
Lamela wrote in her report requested by the Supreme Court. “The
actions of those investigated cannot be examined in an isolated
way.”