As he spoke in Barcelona’s opera house, several hundred separatists protested outside, demanding still more concessions, and one member of the audience interrupted him for a few seconds shouting “Independence.”
“I am convinced that getting these nine people out of prison … is a clear message of concord,” Sanchez said on Monday at the event in the region’s main city attended by around 300 members of Catalan civil society.
“Catalonia, Catalans we love you,” Sanchez said in Catalan at the end of his address, with the Spanish, Catalan and EU flags behind him.
Polls show about 60% of Spaniards are against freeing the politicians who were sentenced for their role in an unauthorized independence referendum and a short-lived declaration of independence. Madrid responded at the time by imposing direct control over the region from 2017-2018.
But Sanchez is betting the time has now come for a political gamble that he hopes will ultimately cement his legacy, weaken the independence push and…