It's good that Arnaldo Otegi has finally been released from prison. This report in the Irish Times quotes him as saying:
"They say that in Spain there are no political prisoners, but you just have to look at the number of cameras here to see that yes, they do exist.
"I went in as a Basque speaker and I come out as a Basque speaker. I went in as a socialist and I come out a socialist. I went in wanting independence and I come out wanting independence."
He also received this support in the form of a tweet from Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos:
La libertad de Otegi es una buena noticia para los demócratas. Nadie debería ir a la cárcel por sus ideas— Pablo Iglesias (@Pablo_Iglesias_) March 1, 2016
The release of Otegi is good news for democrats.
No one should be sent to prison for their ideas.
What might happen next? There is no doubt that Otegi is the towering figure of the pro-independence left in the Euskal Herria, and he is bound to take a prominent role with EH Bildu in the Basque Parliament elections scheduled for November this year. The only problem he faces is that when he was sentenced for his role in reviving Herri Batasuna after the Spanish State banned it, he was himself banned from public office until 2021.
For the moment, however, the focus lies elsewhere. The Catalans are steadily setting up the institutions necessary for Catalunya to function as as independent state, and Spain itself is in political limbo after the elections of December last year. The Spanish situation will, probably, be clear in a few months ... either because a new government will have been agreed, or because new elections will have been held. Once we know how that situation pans out, the battle lines for November will be that much clearer. But there is little doubt that independence for the Basque Autonomous Community will be on the agenda. As Otegi said recently in a written statement from prison:
"Sooner rather than later we will use the right to self-determination and thus transform ourselves into a new state of Europe."