Quim Torra sworn in as Catalan president amid xenophobia claims
Torra has been sworn in as the 131st president of Catalonia amid growing pressure over the “xenophobic” and anti-Spanish tone of his past writings and comments.
Torra, a hardline Catalan nationalist handpicked by the region’s deposed president, Carles Puigdemont, was elected by 66 votes to 65 on Monday and assumed office at a low-key ceremony in Barcelona on Thursday.
“I promise to loyally fulfil the duties of the post of regional president being faithful to the will of the Catalan people represented by the Catalan parliament,” he said, using the same formula as Puigdemont and avoiding mention of obeying the Spanish constitution. Central government representatives did not attend the ceremony.
Since his appointment the 55-year-old lawyer and editor has been dogged by accusations that he is Puigdemont’s puppet and that his long history of antiSpanish comments makes him unfit to lead a government. Six years ago, Torra wrote an article in which he described Spanishspeakers in Catalonia as “carrion-feeders, vipers and hyenas” who hated the Catalan language and culture and were “beasts in human form”.
“It is a sick phobia,” he wrote. “There is something Freudian in these beasts, a rough patch in their DNA.”
In a string of tweets written the same year, Torra suggested that “Spaniards know only how to plunder”, claimed that Catalonia had been under Spanish occupation since 1714 and said Spaniards had long since removed the word “shame” from the dictionary. He later apologised “if anyone was offended by the tweets”.
Torra is sworn in on Thursday. An article has come to light in which he described Spanish speakers in Catalonia as ‘carrion-feeders, vipers and hyenas’.