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The amnesty of Catalan separatists puts the Madrid streets in turmoil

Hundreds of red and yellow flags.

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The amnesty of Catalan separatists puts the Madrid streets in turmoil

Hundreds of red and yellow flags. Most of them stamped with the constitutional shield, a few accompanied by a Sacred Heart, a few others cut out at the level of the national coat of arms, as a sign of defiance of the Constitution, one or two masked by a black bull, only one, which we have seen, wearing the eagle of Saint John in force under Francoism. And flags, less numerous, of the Cross of Burgundy, red on a white background, emblem in its time of the Spanish empire, recovered by the Carlist movement in the 19th century, then during the Spanish War which they led alongside by Franco.

This Thursday was the fourteenth night of protest “in Ferraz”, as the demonstrators say. More precisely, at the crossroads of this street and Calle Marqués de Urquijo, the closest place to number 70 of Calle Ferraz where it is possible to access. Because the historic headquarters of the Socialist Party (PSOE) is protected by the national police vans and the barriers they have placed. Despite the demonstrators, who seem surprised to see that the police are facing them rather than being at their side, and reproach them with slogans. Several thousand people, 4,000 according to the prefecture's provisional count, came to express, once again, the anger and indignation inspired by the amnesty of the Catalan separatists responsible for the illegal referendum of 2017... and the inauguration of Pedro Sánchez to a new mandate. Confidence in the socialist leader was voted this Thursday at midday, thanks, precisely, to the support of the separatists in exchange for the whitewashing of 300 of their comrades.

“No, amnesty is one thing among others,” corrects Paco, in his sixties, crossing Calle Marqués de Urquijo brandishing a Burgundy Cross. The real problem is that they [the left allied with the separatists, we understand] are destroying the rule of law and the separation of powers. It’s a real coup d’état, carried out from within.” The first argument is assumed almost word for word by the president of the Popular Party (PP, right), Alberto Núñez Feijoo, the leader of the opposition, who wants to alert the European Union of the attacks on democracy that he accuses the government of . The second belongs to the lexical field of Vox (far right), which also calls Pedro Sánchez a dictator.

Closer to Calle Ferraz, Antonio, who came with his wife Cristina and the latter's sister, Mariluz, fears that "this amnesty, decided solely to maintain power, will only cause clashes throughout Spain." The three fifty-year-olds call on the opposition, in a calm tone, to explore all legal avenues to try to prevent this measure which they loathe. We hear about ten meters away a group of Catholics praying together. “Lord, have mercy, O Christ, have mercy.” Antonio says he “does not clearly see the connection with the political situation” but expresses his respect for the plural modalities of this movement. “It’s not like last Sunday, when the PP called demonstrations, here it’s more spontaneous.”

Yes and no. A youth organization linked to Vox, Revuelta, calls every evening for Ferraz to win. And party leaders come by very regularly. This evening, it was Javier Ortega Smith, an executive of the training, who greeted the crowd and let himself be taken a selfie with all the many who asked him. “Don’t let us down!” says a woman. “Luckily you’re here with us!”, reassures another. The politician stops at the camera of an internet television channel with an editorial line close to the party. “The protesters are right to mobilize against this psychopath,” he said. “Yes, this pact is a humiliation. But Sánchez's humiliation will be greater when he is kicked out of government!” The brief speech is appreciated.

Because Sánchez is the target of the most repeated slogans. The chief executive is called “hijo de puta” in several tones and at different rhythms. In the same register, the “It's not a seat, it's a brothel!”, is a hit, an allusion to a corruption scandal involving socialists in parties with prostitutes. Just like “He who doesn’t jump is a dirty red!”, which gets the visibly amused crowd moving. The rhyme “Puigdemont, in prison!”, named after the former president of the Catalan government, who should escape the bars thanks to amnesty, is another hit. We hear, occasionally, a homophobic insult against a minister, "but it's like in football, if we call a referee a dwarf, it's not to insult the dwarves, it's part of the atmosphere", wants to reassure Alberto, 26 years old, came with his father.

The police also take it for granted. The officers swap their caps for helmets around 10 p.m. “This is the time when shaved heads start making a mess and the police charge,” warned Paco, the sixty-year-old with the Carlist flag, who finds this regularity suspicious. A violent minority closes the concentration by lighting smoke bombs. A photographer hit by a can of paint is taken away by emergency services. The most radical sing the Cara al Sol, anthem of the Spanish Falange and one of the symbols of Francoism. The preppy audience, the majority at 8 p.m., has now left the premises.

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