The leader of Esquerra Republicana met with senior government officials and human rights activists in Colombia, Argentina and Chile to forge alliances and partnerships
Esquerra leader Oriol Junqueras has visited Latin America to bring the Catalan case and the repression by Spain before the institutions of Colombia, Argentina and Chile. During his stay from November 13 to 22, he met with senior government and institutional officials, including Colombian President Gustavo Petro and human rights defenders like Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. He also gave several lectures at universities in the region.
“This is a land full of challenges and opportunities,” said Mr Junqueras of his first trip outside Europe after almost four years in prison. “I visited Latin America before being imprisoned, and now I am repeating it,” he explained, while assuring that during that time, “Latin America and we are much stronger than we were in terms of democratic support, of building strength and generating international engagement.” “We need to strengthen ties with Latin America; we share many of the current and future challenges,” he added.
The party leader’s first stop on the tour of Latin America was Colombia during the 14 and 15 November. On the first day, Mr Junqueras met with the General Secretaries of the Colombia Humana, Unión Patriótica and Polo Democrático political parties to exchange opinions on the situations in Colombia and Catalonia, and also Latin America and Europe as a whole. He also attended an event with the Catalan community in Colombia.
The second day saw his meeting with President Gustavo Petro at the Casa de Nariño. The conversation centred on the relations between Catalonia and Colombia, including economic, commercial and tourism issues, as well as the global challenges facing Europe and America.
Esquerra’s leader also met with the presiding officer of the House of Representatives David Racero. To close the day, he gave a conference at the University of Rosario, in Bogotá.
Mr Juqueras’ following stop from 16 to 19 November was Argentina. He first met with the president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo Civil Association, Estela de Carlotto, a figurehead of the country’s human rights activism. The organization aims, in its own words, to “locate and return to their legitimate families all the children kidnapped and disappeared by the last military dictatorship.” The conversation centred on the ferocity of the regimes’ repression, and on the action and resistance to combat them, in the past, but also in the current political situation of Catalonia and Argentina. “The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo showed support for our manifestly just cause; we thanked them and offered them our support” underlined Mr Junqueras.
Mr Junqueras next met with Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize laureate for his commitment to democracy and human rights in Latin America. The conversation was on human rights activism and the fight against repression, not only with a historical perspective but also regarding the present situation in Catalonia and Mr Pérez Esquivel’s own country.
Mr Junqueras also met with several institutional officials in Argentina, among which was the Buenos Aires Provincial Government Minister for Gender Policy Estela Díaz, with whom he spoke of the shared struggles in matters of equality and feminist transformation, as well as Catalonia and Argentina’s global challenges.
Finally, Mr Junqueras had the opportunity to give a conference at the University of Buenos Aires, as well as at the National University of La Plata. He also visited the Casa Rosada, which houses the President’s office, and spent some time with the Catalan community in Argentina.
Esquerra’s leader ended his trip in Chile, where between 19 and 22 November he had the opportunity to meet with elected representatives and government officials, including the Mayor of the Commune of Santiago, Irací Hassler, with whom he talked about the historical and present links between Catalonia and the Chilean capital, and about common future challenges, especially regarding the defence of human rights.
Mr Junqeras also met with Carmen Hertz, a representative of the Communist Party and former Minister for Human Rights with the Bachelet Government, to discuss the critical state of many democracies regarding the protection of human rights, as well as the state of these in both Catalonia and Chile.
Furthermore, Mr Junqueras met Agna Aiguader, the granddaughter of two of the founders of Esquerra Republicana, Jaume Aiguader and Lluís Bru. Roser Bru, the mother of the former and daughter of the latter, went into exile in Chile with her partner in 1940, where she became a successful painter. Mr Junqueras and Ms Aiguader shared views on the republican exile during the Franco regime.
Mr Junqueras also met with the member of the Chilean Constituency Process and professor at the University of Valparaiso, Jaime Bassa, with whom he discussed progressivism and social transformation in Catalonia and Chile.
On the last day, he visited the Chilean Senate in Valparaiso, where he had a very cordial meeting with the Christian Democrat senator, a former President of the Senate and candidate to the 2021 presidential elections, Yasna Provoste. They set out to work together, especially on educational and economic issues, and talked about the challenges facing Chile and Catalonia, some of which are common. Mr Junqueras took advantage of the visit to the Senate to greet and talk with the current President of the Chamber, Álvaro Elizalde.
Finally, he met with mayors of the region to comment on some of the emergencies and needs they face at their respective councils, such as in the field of public transport, and agreed to cooperate in the future in this regard. The leader’s trip closed with an interview with television channel CNN Chile.