During the Spanish Civil War, many loyalist leaders and supporters of the Spanish Republican government fled into exile to wage their battle against the Spanish fascist dictatorship of Generalissimo Francisco Franco from abroad. 2018 is beginning to feel like 1939. After the fall of the Second Spanish Republic to Franco, who was aided by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, Spanish President Manuel Azaña and Prime Minister Juan Negrin fled to exile in France. Following the October 27, 2017 declaration of independence of Catalonia by the Catalan Parliament and the dissolution of the Catalonian government by Franco’s proto-fascist successor, Spanish Prime Minister Manuel Rajoy, key members of the Catalonian government fled into exile. The President of the Catalonian Generalitat (Prime Minister) Carles Puigdemont and four of his ministers fled to Belgium to avoid arrest by Rajoy’s security forces.
Other Catalonian leaders were imprisoned in Madrid, where they await trials on sedition and rebellion charges. The leader of the pro-independence Popular Unity Candidature (CUP), Anna Gabriel, attained political asylum in Switzerland, where she told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps, “I will not go to Madrid . . . Since I will not have a fair trial at home, I have looked for a country that can protect my rights.” As with the loyalists imprisoned under Franco, the Catalan independence leaders, who enjoy a majority in the newly-elected Catalonian parliament, face decades in Spanish prison cells under Madrid’s EU-supported regime.
Rajoy, like Franco, appointed not a Catalonian but a Spanish Castilian, Deputy Prime Minister María Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría Antón, as acting President of the Generalitat in Barcelona. Rajoy, as was the case with Franco, has Galician roots. Franco’s rule was infamous for stamping out Catalonian government, language, culture, and national identity and Rajoy, whose Spanish People’s Party is the ideological and chronological heir to Franco’s Falangists, does his very best to emulate his party’s ideological forbearer.
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