A YEAR on from the referendum in Catalonia, the movement for independence is more active than ever, according to a Catalan English teacher and her friend.

The teacher, who we are calling Emma, has a 21-year-old son, while her friend Marta, has a daughter aged 24.

Both live in the Catalan capital Barcelona.

“One year has passed from the referendum on self-determination in Catalonia and the conflict is more alive than ever,” said Emma.

“Since the change in government in Spain some dialogue has started, but ... no true dialogue can start with political prisoners.

“Despite the Spanish repression since last October, through an illegal application of Article 155 of the Spanish constitution and despite the political prisoners and exiles, the independence movement is more active than ever.

“Over one million Catalans demonstrated on Barcelona on September 11 and in several actions organised by CDR (Committee for the Defence of the Republic) in Catalonia for the anniversary of the referendum.”

Marta said the unionist side had long tried to connect the independence movement with violence: “In fact, the case in the supreme court against our Catalan leaders is based in a violence that never existed, but that Spanish unionists are seeking to justify the judiciary actions.

“Also, if violence connected with the pro-indy movement could be proved, Spain would fully apply the same method applied before in the Basque country, but there is no violence.”

Emma added: “The only violence that we have seen in Catalonia is from the police on October 1 and from Spanish nationalists and unionists, many times with fascist and Nazi symbol. We will always remember the image of Spanish police singing ‘go and get them’ and ‘let us act against them’ … the same songs were sung in a political event organised by [far-right party] VOX two days ago in Madrid, including ‘migrants go home, Puigdemont to jail, abolish autonomous communities’.”

Meanwhile, in a display of rhetoric worthy of US President Donald Trump, the president of Spain’s People’s Party (PP), Pablo Casado, yesterday said the Spanish conquest of America was “humanity’s most important event”.

Casado told a political conference: “No nation has done so much for humanity. What other country can say that a new world was discovered by them?”

He said that if the PP regains power – after former leader Mariano Rajoy was ousted – it will re-impose direct rule in Catalonia, take control of Catalan schools, police, media and the prison system.

Pasado’s comments were condemned on social media, with Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona, calling him a liar who wanted to create conflict. She said: “You’re a danger for coexistence and security.”

Joan Mas Albaigès tweeted: “What a disgusting ignorance,” while Jorge Cabaleiro added: “You are a fool.”

Elsewhere, Spanish press reports yesterday suggested that prosecutors are seeking to try imprisoned former Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras, as leader of the alleged rebellion last October. Spanish newspaper ABC said they would seek a sentence of between 25 and 30 years for Junqueras, with up to 25 years for other former ministers and ex-speaker Carme Forcadell.