Around 15,000 people turned out on the streets of Madrid on Sunday, December 3rd, to protest the pending amnesty for Catalan separatists and their friends.
The protest marked the fourth promoted by the center-right Partido Popular (PP) against an amnesty that includes not only MEP Carles Puigdemont and a handful of others who directly organized the 2017 illegal referendum on Catalan independence but also extends to crimes such as street violence and drug-related crimes of anyone considered a supporter of Catalonia’s secession from the Spanish nation.
Though smaller than previous mass protests, it still numbered enough people to create a visual effect and demonstrate that Spain is not ready to easily forgive and forget the offenses of unrepentant separatists intent on holding another referendum.
The protest took place the day after a highly opaque meeting between representatives from Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s socialist party and Puigdemont’s party, Junts per Cat. A meeting with an international mediator was stipulated by the Catalans in their agreement to support Sánchez’ new government. Negotiations between Madrid and Catalan parties have long been a demand from separatists because they create a scene in which Catalan parties or regional leaders appear on equal international footing with the recognized and legitimate government of Spain.
However, details of the meeting, staged in Switzerland, have been highly guarded, from the exact location to who had been brought in as an international observer or mediary. Nevertheless, Spanish media reports that the meeting took place in a private house in Cologny, a luxurious Swiss commune in the canton of Geneva located near Lake Geneva. The minutes of the meeting, surrounded by total secrecy, were kept by one of the verifiers, the Salvadoran diplomat Francisco Galindo Vélez.
The Henry Dunant Foundation, a Swiss human rights organization, handled the logistics and acted as one of the international verifiers. Notably, the meeting did not involve members of government. However, Puigdemont is pressing for a face-to-face with Sánchez.
The PP, which has a stronghold in Madrid thanks to leading both the municipal and regional governments with two of its most popular politicians, José Luis Martinnez-Almedia and Isabel Diaz Ayuso, intends to keep up the atmosphere of opposition and protest in the heart of the Spanish nation.