17th Anniversary: Borràs uses the tribute to the victims of the Rambla attack to vindicate himself | Catalonia
The acts of homage to the victims of the jihadist attack on Barcelona’s Rambla, five years ago, failed to escape this Wednesday from the political division that has weighed on Catalonia for at least a decade, when the independence process began. On this occasion, discord was sown by the coverage that Laura Borràs, recently suspended as president of the Catalan Parliament, gave to a group of protesters who broke the minute of silence for the victims with conspiratorial proclamations about who was responsible for the attack. The leader of Junts took advantage of the fact that these protesters cheered her on as “president” to vindicate herself just where in August 2017 14 people appeared run over by the van of a terrorist commando. This had the general indignation of the victims and their relatives, as well as a transversal rejection of parties and institutional representatives.
The tribute was convened by the Barcelona City Council in the middle of the Rambla, the main scene of the 2017 jihadist attack. As in other years, political speeches were avoided precisely so as not to detract from the victims. On this occasion, however, a group of a few dozen protesters who chanted pro-independence proclamations wanted to show their doubts about the outcome of the investigations into the attack and directly blame the state for the massacre. They broke the minute of silence causing great tension. At the end of the act, Borràs approached them, greeted them effusively and thanked them for her attendance, at a time when the leader of Junts bases all of her public presence on continuing to assert herself as president of the Parliament.
When the different political representatives who attended the event left, Borràs —investigated in a corruption case for the alleged splitting of public contracts to benefit a friend— captured all eyes, greeting and taking pictures with some of those who boycotted the event. Until two weeks ago, the president of the autonomous Parliament attended together with other representatives of Junts, such as the secretary of the Parlament Board Aurora Madaula and David Torrents, recently elevated to the organization secretary of Junts per Catalunya. At noon, the three leaders also attended another meeting before the headquarters of the European Parliament in Barcelona, where Platform 17-A, we demand responsibilities continued denouncing an alleged conspiracy of the State in the 2017 attacks, a thesis that has some support in sectors of Junts.
The demonstrators supported Borràs and launched slogans such as “Spanish State and CNI, responsible” or “Generalitat, inoperative!”. The concentrations also wore banners such as “17-A, State crime” or “The sewers of the State kill”, in addition to slogans such as “We want the truth.” The act, which concluded with a closed cry of “independence”, had the objective of delivering a manifesto to the Parliament delegation, which was received by a security agent from the European building. A poster recorded the expression “a little scare”, alluding to the words that former commissioner José Manuel Villarejo expressed in a recent judicial statement and in which he insinuated, without evidence, that the CNI had wanted to punish Catalonia with the attacks.
Laura Borràs was not the only one who spurred pro-independence sectors that continue to question the results of the investigations, and that maintain that the State had some kind of responsibility for the attacks. The former president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont also approved the anniversary to once again question, through his social networks, the result of the investigations. “The best tribute we can pay to the victims and their families is to know the whole truth. It is not fair or humane to deny victims the right to know,” he stated on Twitter.
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But there were many more voices that rejected what happened, also within the independence movement. Without going any further, the official account of Junts expressed through the same social network its “strongest rejection of the interruption of the minute of silence” on La Rambla in Barcelona, although its president, Laura Borràs, did not retract in no time. The party’s former general secretary, Jordi Sànchez, later stressed that “there should have been no role other than that of the families of the victims.” The also former leader of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and sentenced in the trial to process He added that “it was not the place to break the minute of silence or to seek political prominence.” Then he concluded: “I’m sorry, not like this!”
Avui a les Rambles, in the record and homage to the victims of the #17August, no hi hauria d’haver hagut cap more prominence than that of the relatives of the victims. It was not the lloc or the minute of silence or the moment to seek political prominence. I’m sorry. Aixi, no! https://t.co/u4ncXrwpHF
– Jordi Sánchez (@jordisanchezp) August 17, 2022
Disapproving responses to Borràs’s gesture continued across the political spectrum. The ERC spokesman in Congress, Gabriel Rufián, was blunt: “Not respecting a minute of silence in memory of the victims of an attack is miserable. And get political profit from it, despicable. Not in my name,” he said. A question that avoided the President, Pere Aragonès, present along with other authorities at the institutional act in Pla de l’Os. Aragonès recorded the victims on his social networks, in addition to the work of the security and emergency teams. “We are a people of peace,” he added. For her part, the vice president of the Parliamentary Board, the socialist Assumpta Escarp, who attended on behalf of the Catalan Chamber when Borràs was suspended, called for “no noise to break the silence of respect for the memory and the victims” of the attacks.
The rejection also came from members of civil society. The adviser of the Unit for Attention and Assessment of People Affected by Terrorism (Uavat), Robert Manrique, lamented the political drift of the act of homage: “He always said that an act of homage to the victims has to be clean of political messages. What a pity that there are people today who use the act to do politics, ”he criticized.
lack of attention
One more year, the commemoration of the attack was marked by complaints of lack of attention to those affected by the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils (Tarragona), which then amounted to 16 dead and hundreds injured. The Uavat denounced the “null treatment” of the Ministry of the Interior towards the victims, who, according to this association, have not been informed or advised at any time. In statements to Catalunya Ràdio, Manrique had previously underlined the act that the Ministry of the Interior has the “legal obligation to put all the channels to inform and advise the victims” but that, however, “it has not done so”.