Photo: Roger Torrent and Ada Colau (Credit: Cristina Calderer)
By Xavi Tedó and Maria Ortega
February 25th, 2018
The Speaker of Parliament, Roger Torrent, and the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, will distance themselves from King Philip VI at the official Mobile World Congress (MWC) receptions planned for today at the Palau de la Música. Torrent and Colau will however attend the official dinner which follows which symbolizes the inauguration of the congress to demonstrate the support of Barcelona and Catalonia for a key event relating to the dynamization of the economic and social fabric of the country. The Speaker of the Catalan chamber is “absolutely aware of his institutional role”, but stated he could not ignore the fact that the head of state didn’t dedicate “even a single word to the thousands of wounded on October 1st thanks to the actions of the Civil Guard and the National Police”. In fact, sources close to Torrent pointed out that in his speech from October 3rd, Felipe VI asserted he supported the actions of the Spanish government and did not, in any case, suggest a political solution to what was essentially a political conflict.
This was also the main reason that the mayor of the Catalan capital chose to remove herself from the official receptions of the congress. Colau said yesterday that she would not attend because it was her “institutional responsibility” to the thousands of people who suffered police violence on 1-O. The mayor regretted that the king of Spain could not maintain a neutral position, but rather positioned himself on the “tougher” end of the spectrum of strategies, and critizized him for not showing any empathy for the victims of police repression. Colau argued that in an “exceptional” moment like that which is being lived in Catalonia, “in which self-government is suspended”, “it would be inappropriate to have official receptions”. “It’s one thing to show institutional respect, but it is completely another to be submissive”, she criticized. The mayor also criticized the “retreat from democracy” of the state, as she described it, being evidenced by the conviction of the rapper Valtonyc, for having offended the Bourbons with the lyrics of his songs. Yesterday, Colau had already communicated her decision to the protocol service of the Royal Household. The delegate of the Spanish government in Catalonia, Enric Millo, asked the mayor to rectify her position, and to “leave off posturing”. Similar criticism came from the Ciudadans party and the Socialist Party of Catalonia.
Her former colleague, Jaume Collboni (Socialist Party of Catalonia), called on her, via Twitter to change her position and not “politicize” the Mobile World Congress. The PP leader in Barcelona, Alberto Fernández Díaz, called the mayor a “kamikaze” for her “insolence” with regards to Philip VI. And the president of the municipal group of Ciudadans Party, Carina Mejías, denounced that Colau “has not yet shed her role as an activist, and once again shows she marches to the independentista beat”. Pro-Sovereignty parties, on the other hand, endorsed Colau’s position. In fact, the city leader for The Republican Leftist Party of Catalonia, Alfred Bosch, had already announced during the week that he would not attend the dinner. The Popular Unity Candidacy also called on Friday for the dinner to be boycotted because of the presence of the king.
No member of the Generalitat
Among the additional people declining to attend, were three representatives of the Generalitat who were expected to attend. After the Secretary of Telecommunications of the Government, Jordi Puigneró, announced that he would not go to the inauguration of the MWC because of the presence of Felipe VI, the next two highest representatives of the council of Business and Knowledge, Pau Villoria and Joan Aregio, declined the dinner yesterday, on behalf of the Generalitat, on the basis of an “anomalous” and the “exceptionality” of Catalonia. Department sources reported that Villoria will participate in the inauguration of the congress.