In October 2017, when Catalonia held an independence referendum, the government was led by president Carles Puigdemont and vice-president Oriol Junqueras. Today, the heads of Junts per Catalunya and Esquerra met for the first time in Waterloo, where Puigdemont lives in exile. After the referendum, Spain suspended Catalonia’s autonomy, Puigdemomt left for Belgium and Junqueras was imprisoned. Having spent almost 4 years in prison and due to international pressure, Junqueras and the rest of political prisoners were pardonned two weeks ago.
Oriol Junqueras was accompanied by Carme Forcadell, Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa, all members of left-wing pro-independence Esquerra Republicana, who were also in prison until last month. Also present was Meritxell Serret, who returned to Catalonia in March after over three years in Belgium to take up her seat as MP in the Catalan Parliament, and exiled former minister Toni Comín and rapper Valtonyc.
Junqueras, Forcadell, Romeva and Bassa traveled to Strasbourg on Tuesday, before going to Belgium. Romeva, who is a former MEP, and Junqueras, who won a seat in the 2019 EU election but was blocked by Spain from formally taking it up, were allowed to enter the European Parliament, where they met with Ska Keller and Philippe Lamberts of the Greens/European Free Alliance.