November 10, 2023

SPAIN: Former Catalan Politician Shot In Face In Madrid Days After Socialist Acting Prime Minister Secured A Controversial Amnesty Deal With A Catalan Separatist Party To Stay In Power.

Reuters News published November 9, 2023: Former Catalan politician shot in face in Madrid. The former head of Spain's center-right People's Party in the Catalonia region, Alejo Vidal-Quadras was shot in the face in the wealthy Salamanca area of central Madrid.
Reuters News
written by Staff
Thursday November 9, 2023

MADRID - The former head of Spain's centre-right People's Party in the Catalonia region was shot in the face in the Spanish capital Madrid on Thursday, police said.

Alejo Vidal-Quadras was shot in the wealthy Salamanca area of central Madrid at about 1.30 p.m. and taken to hospital.

Hospital authorities said his life was not in danger.

Police were hunting a gunman and an accomplice who drew up near Vidal-Quadras on a black Yamaha motorcycle, shot him, then drove off.

Rescue workers said a bullet passed through Vidal-Quadras' jaw.

A torched motorcycle police believe was used in the attack was later found. No arrests have been made. Police told Reuters no motive had been established for the attack.

Vidal-Quadras, 78, was a former head of the centre-right People's Party (PP) in Catalonia and a founder of Spain's far-right Vox party. He also served as European Parliament vice-president between 2009 and 2014.

Spanish politicians including the PP leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo and Vox leader Santiago Abascal expressed their shock and sadness at the attack and, with Spain's Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, called for a thorough investigation and swift arrests.

"All my affection at this time for Alejo Vidal-Quadras and his family," Sanchez posted on social media.

Italy's right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a statement Vidal-Quadras was the victim of a "cowardly attack" and wished him a speedy and full recovery, while condemning "an act of unacceptable violence, perpetrated against a political representative of an important European nation."

Shahin Gobadi, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said in a statement on Thursday that Vidal-Quadras has been a staunch supporter of the Iranian opposition movement and fight for human rights in Iran over the past 25 years.
FRANCE 24 English published November 10, 2023: Spain's Socialists to grant amnesty to Catalan separatists in return for support of new govt. Spain's Socialist Party has struck a deal with a fringe Catalan separatist party to grant an amnesty for potentially thousands of people involved in the region's failed secession bid in exchange for its backing of acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in forming a new government.
FRANCE 24 English published November 9, 2023: Spain PM offers amnesty to Catalan separatists in controversial deal. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has clinched a controversial deal to remain in power by offering amnesty to Catalan separatists, raising tensions across the country. The accord is aimed at "giving stability to the four-year legislature," Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) official Santos Cerdan told a news conference in Brussels Thursday after negotiations with Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, who is based there. FRANCE 24's Sarah Morris reports from Madrid.
The Times and The Sunday Times published November 10, 2023: Protesters in Madrid clash with police after deal between socialists and separatists Spain’s acting Socialist prime minister has agreed an amnesty deal with a fugitive Catalan separatist leader, sparking protests by right-wing demonstrators.

BBC News
written by Paul Kirby
Friday November 10, 2023

Spain's Socialist acting prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has agreed a controversial amnesty deal with a Catalan separatist party, bringing him closer to four more years in office.

He was immediately condemned by conservative opponents for dragging Spain towards "humiliation".

Although the conservative Popular Party won July elections they were unable to form a majority.

The amnesty deal would give the Socialists the numbers they need.

However, right-wing protesters have taken to the streets in Madrid and other cities in recent days, angered by the prospect of a law granting amnesty to hundreds of Catalan politicians and activists "directly or indirectly" related to a failed bid to secede from Spain in 2017.

Popular Party (PP) figures have accused the acting prime minister of writing a "blank cheque for the independence movement". Madrid regional leader Isabel Díaz Ayuso said the Socialists were "selling a nation with centuries of history" with an attack on Spain's rule of law.

Judges and prosecutors associations also expressed "profound concern" about the agreement.

Amid the febrile atmosphere surrounding the deal, a former leader of the PP in Catalonia and founder of far-right Vox was shot in the head and wounded on a street in Madrid. His attacker was said to have fled the scene on a motorbike.

Alejo Vidal-Quadras, 78, had earlier condemned the "infamous pact", warning that it would make Spain a "totalitarian tyranny". However, Spanish reports suggested the attack may have been linked to his work defending Iran's exiled opposition.

Mr Vidal-Quadras was said to be in a stable condition.

Before Thursday's agreement, Pedro Sánchez had already sealed a deal with one pro-independence party. The Catalan Republican Left (ERC) is in power in Spain's north-eastern region.

His negotiators then clinched an agreement with the more radical Together for Catalonia (JxCat). It is led by Carles Puigdemont, who led the breakaway independence vote but fled to Brussels to avoid being sent to jail.

ERC and JxCat hold seven seats each in the 350-seat parliament.

While Mr Puigdemont went into exile in 2017, nine other Catalan leaders were jailed for sedition before being pardoned by Mr Sánchez in 2021. The crime of sedition has since been removed from the penal code but Mr Puigdemont is still accused of disobedience and embezzling public funds, and many others have faced similar allegations.

Under the agreement of just over three pages, the draft amnesty covers charges arising from the start of the Catalan push for independence in 2012 to 2023 but it does not refer to any named individuals.

It says JxCat will propose holding a "self-determination referendum on the political future of Catalonia" within the terms of the Spanish constitution while the Socialist party says it will defend the "broad development" of Catalonia's autonomy by judicial means.

The text also refers to "lawfare", a word used by JxCat to refer to judicial cases it claims were used to persecute pro-independence figures politically.

Mr Puigdemont said the deal marked a step towards resolving "the historic conflict between Catalonia and Spain".

Santos Cerdán, the Socialist party negotiator, said it gave a historic opportunity for tackling what "can and should only be dealt with politically".

"It's necessary to form a progressive government as soon as possible, that gives stability to Spain and that fulfils the mandate of the people in last elections."

The leader of the conservative PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, spoke of a day that would go down "in the dark history of our country". Calling for further protests, he said the acting prime minister had formed an alliance for personal convenience and had utterly surrendered to the "blackmail of the independence movement".

Party colleague Isabel Díaz Ayuso told Spanish TV that the Socialists had betrayed all their principles. Accusing the acting prime minister of deciding to stay in office despite losing the election, she said his party was guilty of sneaking "a dictatorship through the back door".

Four judicial groups signed a joint statement objecting to the deal's claims of "lawfare" waged against pro-independence activists. They warned against interference in the independence of the judiciary and said expressions reflecting "distrust" were unacceptable.

The controversial amnesty law will be put before parliament in the coming days and, assuming it passes, the next step will be for an investiture debate and a vote around Thursday next week.

The European Commission said it had written to the caretaker government in Spain for information about the draft law. A spokesman said it had been contacted "by a large number of citizens and stakeholders who had concerns about [the amnesty]".
Sky News Australia published November 9, 2023: Chaos in Madrid: Thousands of protesters clash with police at Socialist Party HQ. Violence has erupted between police and thousands of protesters during the fourth consecutive night of demonstrations outside the Spanish Socialist Party's headquarters in Madrid.

El Pais, Spain local news source
written by Patricia Ortega Dolz and Elena Reina
Friday November 10, 2023

Dozens of young people gathered on Tuesday afternoon in the basement of a bar located near Ferraz Street in Madrid. This street is home to the headquarters of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and in recent days it has been the site of numerous protests against the deal reached between Spain’s caretaker government and Catalan separatists, which grants amnesty to people involved in the 2017 illegal breakaway attempt in exchange for political support, paving the way for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to remain in power following an inconclusive election in July.

Almost all the youths at the bar are men between 20 and 30 years of age. They are all wearing similar clothing: sports shoes, tight sweatpants or jeans, sweatshirts and black winter coats with hoods, many of them made by The North Face. Many of them are also wearing scarves or neck gaiters that allow them to partially cover their faces. They have been drinking beer since early in the afternoon, while people gather outside with banners, symbols and flags of Spain in different formats. In between drinks, they cheer one another with patriotic shouts and negative comments about the Socialist prime minister: “No, it can’t be, bro! We have a PM who has put the government in the hands of those who want to break up Spain! Those sons of bitches!” Everyone has their cellphone out and is following an ongoing protest being livestreamed on Instagram. They are waiting for a call that finally arrives two hours later, around 10:00 p.m.

“Now! Let’s go get them!” In a matter of seconds, bottles in hand, the crowd vacates the bar, whose two floors they had taken over. Outside, the youths start throwing the objects they were carrying in their hands at the riot police. They grab chairs from the restaurants and bars that they find in their path and send them flying in the air. They are working in rows, moving from front to back, retreating from police pressure and taking shelter in nearby premises if necessary. None of the six people arrested on Tuesday night had a police record or has been linked to these violent groups, according to police sources.

“This is typical behavior by the ultras of the Frente Atlético and Ultra Sur [hooligan groups that follow the soccer teams Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid]. They congregate in their bar-headquarters, they drink their asses off and then, when things are hot enough, they receive an alert and go out to mess it up and unleash all their violence, because that is their only objective, the fun of releasing their aggression,” notes an officer from the Information Services of the National Police, who has been monitoring these groups for years. “And since now they cannot do it in the stadiums, they do it here, in Ferraz Street, for example, or wherever they are summoned.” The methodology was repeated again on Thursday night at the same location on Ferraz Street.

Police experts have recognized members of these groups on the fringes of the demonstrations at PSOE headquarters in Madrid. There were also members of a few far-right groups that were nearly extinct or short-lived and opportunistic, such as Falange, National Democracy, Frontal Bastion, Social Home, Making a Nation, Desokupa, Solidarity and Revolt... “In reality they are few, and by themselves they have no strength to accomplish anything. That is why they use these events to regain some visibility,” explain these sources.

Ever since Francisco Javier Romero Taboada, alias Jimmy, a member of the hooligan group Riazor Blues, was allegedly beaten to death by members of the Atlético Front in 2014, these violent fans have been banned from soccer stadiums and lost a good deal of the VIP treatment that they had enjoyed, becoming mush less visible, dispersed and relegated to the background.

On Tuesday, not all the violent protesters were refueling at the bar. Others with identical appearance could be seen drinking and smoking in the streets adjacent to the protest, inside cars parked in the streets, or outside convenience stores run by Chinese citizens where they bought their beer: “Go put more greens [beers] in the refrigerator!” they shouted at the owner of one business, while discussing whether one of them had brought brass knuckles.

For much of the night, while thousands chanted against Pedro Sánchez, against “Muslim Spain” and the “manipulative Spanish press,” or raised their hands to sing Cara al Sol (a fascist anthem) in front of PSOE headquarters, they waited in the rear, biding their time. However, their degree of organization is a far cry from the urban guerrilla tactics of coordinated violent groups on display in Catalonia following the conviction of Catalan secessionist leaders in October 2019 or the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasél in 2021, when professionalized vandalism seemed to take over the streets of the main Catalan capitals.

About two miles from Ferraz, two of the main promoters of the protests — the YouTuber Alvise Pérez and Daniel Esteve, head of Desokupa, a company specializing in evicting squatters — announced to their followers (on Instagram they have 640,0000 and 336,000 each) that they were going “out to dinner.” As tension grew in Ferraz, they wanted to make it clear that they were not encouraging violence. After all, in the case of Esteve and dozens of other anti-squatter companies, they usually notify the riot police and the National Police when an eviction turns violent, according to reports.

“This has been like a rite of passage. It creates a type of cohesion. Because if something happens to you and something happens to me, that unites us, man,” said two of the rioters, as they rode the subway back home. But with a new demonstration against the amnesty planned for this coming Sunday, this time sponsored by the mainstream conservative Popular Party, many politicians (and non-politicians) who justified and attended the recent rallies are now seeking to disassociate themselves from the violence.

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