Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont kisses Spanish flag in viral video, but critics suspect it’s just lip service
A video of Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont kissing a Spanish flag at the insistence of a man who confronted him over his independence push went viral in Spain on Tuesday.
But some, including Spain’s deputy prime minister, said they doubted the sincerity of the gesture.
In the video reportedly taken during Puigdemont’s visit to Copenhagen earlier this week a young man can be seen approaching Puigdemont as he was having coffee at a shopping centre cafe.
The man thrusts a red and yellow Spanish flag towards Puigdemont and says: “I have a Spanish flag here Puigdemont, that I know you like. Take it and kiss it please.”
A smiling Puigdemont replies that he had “no problem” with the Spanish flag and kisses it twice.
The man then asks “what about independence? This is not a problem?” and warns the former Catalan president that “a Spanish jail is waiting for you”.
Un español increpa a Puigdemont en Copenhague y le insta a besar la bandera de España. pic.twitter.com/CipoAP5f71
— La Vanguardia (@LaVanguardia) January 23, 2018
Madrid sacked Puigdemont and his entire government after the Catalan parliament declared unilateral independence in late October.
Charged with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, Puigdemont faces arrest if he returns to Spain over his role in Catalonia’s independence drive.
He has been living in Belgium in self-imposed exile since the end of October.
Puigdemont shared the video on his own Twitter account along with the message: “Some day they will understand that we don’t have any problem with Spain or its flag.”
“The battle is against those who exercise power despotically,” he added.
Algun dia entendran que no tenim cap problema amb Espanya ni amb la seva bandera. La batalla és contra qui exerceix el poder despòticament. La democràcia és més important que totes les fronteres, totes les banderes i totes les constitucions https://t.co/IIMbicLt43
— Carles Puigdemont (@KRLS) January 23, 2018
On Monday, Puigdemont vowed to form a new government after the speaker of the Catalan parliament proposed him as president of Catalonia following a snap election in December in which separatist parties again won an absolute majority.
The video went viral on social media and was much discussed in Spain, with even Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria weighing in.
Puigdemont “has dedicated himself to show business” and is “capable of embracing flags which in other settings he rejects” to appear on TV, she said during an interview with Spanish public television.