Jordi Cuixart i Navarro
22 April 1975
|Occupation||Businessperson & cultural activist|
|Known for||President of the Òmnium Cultural|
Jordi Cuixart i Navarro (born 22 April 1975) is a Spanish businessman, politician and cultural activist from Catalonia. He is the president of Òmnium Cultural, a non-profit cultural organisation founded in 1961 with more than 160,000 members and 40 local branches in Catalonia. As part of his role in the pro-independence demonstrations prior to the Catalan independence referendum of 2017, he has been imprisoned since October 2017 under charges of sedition and violent rebellion brought by the Spanish prosecutor's office. Amnesty International believes his detention constitutes a disproportionate restriction on his rights to free speech and peaceful assembly, and urges Spain to free him.
Cuixart was born in 1975 in Santa Perpètua de Mogoda. His mother hailed from Murcia and his father from Badalona. He lived in Santa Perpètua de Mogoda for 30 years before moving to Sabadell, where he remained until his imprisonment in 2017.
As a teenager, he studied mechanics in the vocational education centre Institut Escola Industrial i d'Arts i Oficis in Sabadell. He joined Òmnium Cultural in 1996. In addition, he is a member of different social organisations, such as Can Capablanca, a pro-Catalan independence social centre in Sabadell, the cooperative financial institution Coop 57, and Amnesty International. He was an objector to Spanish military service.
As a businessman, Cuixart is the founder and president of Aranow, a company that exports packaging machinery. He is co-founder and chairman of FemCAT, a private foundation of Catalan businesspeople.
Activism in Òmnium Cultural
He became the treasurer and later vice-president of Òmnium Cultural as an associate to Muriel Casals, who first became Òmnium's president in 2010 and was re-elected to the post in 2014. Under Casals' leadership, Òmnium Cultural's original focus in Catalan culture broadened to include the promotion of self-determination and Catalan independence. Jordi Cuixart succeeded Muriel Casals as president of Òmnium in December 2015, after she stepped down in July of that year to stand in the forthcoming Catalan election (in the meantime, the organisation was headed by Quim Torra as interim president).
As president of Òmnium Cultural, he focused on widening the sovereignist social majority, while maintaining a program where the Catalan language and culture vertebrate social cohesion. He promoted, among others, the Lluites compartides (Shared fightings) campaign, with which he wanted to promote the shared historical memory of social mobilization processes that, in different areas and moments of time, have been decisive in shaping what is today Catalonia. Cuixart also continued the organisation's involvement in the political developments leading to the Catalan independence referendum of 2017. During this period, Spanish police have registered Òmnium's main headquarters twice, and shut down websites promoting mobilization.
On 16 October 2017, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez were preventively jailed after the state attorney's accusation of sedition, a felony regulated by the article 544 and subsequents of the Spanish Criminal Code.
This sedition was allegedly committed when they organized a protest on 20 September 2017 during Operation Anubis police raids to dismantle the framework of the 1 October Catalan independence referendum performed by the Spanish Civil Guard. They were accused of leading the protest of tens of thousands of people in front of the Catalan economy department heeding a call made by Òmnium Cultural and ANC. The investigating judge stated that the leaders did not call for "peaceful demonstration but to the protection of Catalan officials through 'massive citizens' mobilisations", even though Cuixart and Sànchez made several public calls asking for "peaceful" and "civic" protests in social networks, in a public statement in front of the media at noon and in a speech in front of the demonstrators in the evening. According to the judge, Sànchez encouraged the demonstrators with expressions such as "no one goes home, it will be a long and intense night", on top of a police vehicle. But footage from that night contradicts that and shows Cuixart and Sànchez calling off the protests on top of the car at 11pm: "We are asking you, to the extent possible and in a peaceful way, to dissolve today's gathering". After those calls, most demonstrators left the place and only a few hundred remained. Those were dispersed by crowd-controls units of the autonomous police force of Catalonia, Mossos d'Esquadra. Mossos recognized that there was a risk situation and denounced Spanish Civil Guard didn't notify them in advance of the registries, making it impossible to prepare a police operation to keep demonstrators far from the building.
A sentence of sedition can carry up to 15 years in prison. In July 2018, Cuixart was transferred to a prison in Catalonia. On February 1, 2019, he was transferred back to a prison in Madrid, expecting trial that started on February the 12th and was remitted to decision on 12 June 2019.
In Catalonia and Spain
Exiled Catalan former President Carles Puigdemont and the European Free Alliance referred to Sànchez and Cuixart as "political prisoners". The Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catalá argued that they were not "political prisoners" but "imprisoned politicians".
Since then, there have been several demonstrations and concentrations asking for their release. On 19 October, 200,000 people with candles gathered in Avinguda Diagonal, Barcelona and on 21 October, 450,000 joined in Passeig de Gràcia to protest against their imprisonment. Another demonstration took place on 11 November, after the imprisonment of some members of the Catalan government, and 750,000 people congregated according to Barcelona city police.
Amnesty International calls on Spanish authorities to drop the charges of sedition and to put an immediate end to their pre-trial detention.— Amnesty International
On 7 March 2018 the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded Spanish authorities that "pre-trial detention should be considered a measure of last resort" referring to Catalan politicians and activists arrested after the independence referendum. On 8 August 2018, PEN International made another statement asking Spanish authorities to release Cuixart and Sànchez and considered their detentions to be "an excessive and disproportionate restriction on their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly".
The World Organisation Against Torture sent an open letter to the President of the Government of Spain Pedro Sánchez as well as the Spanish Attorney General and Spanish Ombudsman on 22 November 2018 demanding the end of the "arbitrary pre-trial detention and judicial harassment of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez" and concluded "OMCT considers that the charges against them are unfounded and must therefore be dropped." The day after, the NGO Front Line Defenders also issued a statement calling for the release of Cuixart. In December 2018, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers issued a statement requesting the release of 'Catalan political prisoners'.
The day before the beginning of the trial, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization expressed their support to "those Catalan activists being trialled" and added "perhaps one of the biggest deficit of justice and deliberate confusion between law and justice, is seen in Catalonia.". On the same day, the European Democratic Lawyers association requested the "immediate" release of the Catalan leaders and expressed their "concern" because of the "lack of procedural guarantees during the trial".
On 29 May 2019, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention urged Spain to release Cuixart, Sànchez and Junqueras and to investigate their "arbitrary" detention and the violation of theirs rights, as well as compensating them for the time spent in jail. The Spanish government criticised the report, arguing that the reasoning for their opinion did not take into account some of the alleged crimes. Spain's government issued a statement that raised "doubts" about the group's "independence and impartiality" and called on the U.N. to make sure that its semi-independent working groups are not used "for spurious purposes".
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Article 544. Seditionists are those who, without being included in the crime of rebellion, rise publicly and tumultually to prevent, by force or outside legal channels, the application of the Laws or any authority, official corporation or public official, the legitimate exercise of their functions or compliance with their agreements, or administrative or judicial decisions. Article 545. 1. Those who have induced, sustained or directed the sedition or appear in it as its principal authors, shall be punished with imprisonment from eight to ten years, and from ten to fifteen years, if they were persons constituted in authority. In both cases, absolute disqualification will also be imposed for the same time.
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An ongoing legal investigation claims Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leader of the ANC movement, and Mr Cuixart, who heads the Omnium Cultural association, were heavily involved in organising a massive protest aimed at hindering a Guardia Civil investigation in Barcelona into the build-up for the 1 October illegal referendum.
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