Catalonian President Seeks Asylum in Belgium

The saga continues… in Belgium?

Griffin Sonnemann-Creed, Columnist

The former president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, is now on the run from Spanish authorities after a faux declaration of independence. After the independence referendum passed in Catalonia, the province was thrown into chaos, with protests constantly gathering in the streets of Barcelona and other cities.

On Oct. 27, independence from Spain was declared by the Catalan government, amid the constitutional crisis caused by their prior rallies and referendums. The central Spanish government then promptly militarily intervened, dispatching troops to establish direct rule from Madrid. Meanwhile, the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, dismissed Carles Puigdemont from his duties as president of Catalonia, assigning Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría as temporary president until the new elections could be held in December.

The declaration of independence was not met with positive reaction. Throughout the prior week, many anti-independence rallies were held throughout the province, and 53 members of the Catalan parliament refused to attend the formal declaration. The newly independent republic lasted for a mere three days, with no international recognition by any other countries.

According to BBC, the Spanish reaction was to send in the state military and place Catalonia under martial law, suspending its autonomy guaranteed by the constitution of Spain. Members of the Guardia Civil, a paramilitary organization of the central government, raided Catalan police and government offices for information on the riots and referendum.

After the occupation of Catalonia, president Carles Puigdemont has travelled to Belgium. According to the New York Times, Carles is not seeking asylum in Belgium and instead has travelled to Belgium to seek assistance from the European Union. During a press conference on October 31, Carles stated that he would return to Spain and face prosecution to guarantee the equal trials of his Catalan peers, after he had gotten a response from the European Union.

Whether Puigdemont will follow through on his promise remains to be seen.