Barcelona doesn’t want to be a part of Spain anymore, you may have heard. Just as the Brits voted to Brexit out of the European Union, Catalans along the gorgeous Mediterranean coast voted a referendum (against strong threats from Madrid) to pursue independence from Spain. The independence movement’s leader is Carles Puigdemont, 54, who may not want to really separate from Spain — but only to be listened to better by those in power.
Having secured the mandate for independence through the referendum, Puigdemont told the Catalan parliament that: “We propose the suspension of the effects of the declaration of independence for a few weeks, to open a period of dialogue.” That’s a dialogue with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s unhappy government. It could be that the referendum was a means to an end that doesn’t ultimately mean an independent Catalan nation. But if there is to be no secession, there will need to be concessions.
Here are 6 Things To Know About Carles Puigdemont, leader of the Barcelona separatist movement:
ONE: Carles Puigdemont is currently the President of the Government of Catalonia, having taken office in January of 2016.
TWO: Puigdemont speaks Catalan, Spanish, French and Romanian.
THREE: Puigdemont is a former journalist, having left the University of Girona before completing his degree to work in the field. He began his auspicious journalism career at El Punt, a Girona-based Catalan daily newspaper that was active from 1979 to 2011. Puigdemont rose to be El Punt’s editor in chief. He later helped found and directed the Catalan News Agency, a sort of Associated Press for Barcelona-based news.
FOUR: Puigdemont is a local politician at heart. He was elected Mayor of Girona in 2011, unseating the socialist party that held the mayoralty in Girona for three decades.
FIVE: When elected President of Catalonia, Puigdemont refused to pledge the customary oath of loyalty to the Spanish constitution, setting the stage for his push toward Catalan separatism. By refusing to take the oath, he also refused to pledge loyalty to Felipe VI, Spain’s current king, who has criticized the separatists.
SIX: Puigdemont is married to his wife of 27 years, Marcela Topor. The couple has two children. Topor is also a journalist. His wife was born in Romania — which is a clue why Puigdemont lists Romanian among the languages he speaks.
— PEN Català (@PENCatala) October 5, 2017