TERRORISM

Spanish politicians call off scheduled events in wake of Brussels attacks

Acting PM cancels rally only after rivals drop their schedules. Antiterrorist pact meeting called

Acting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at a recent meeting in Brussels.
Acting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at a recent meeting in Brussels.Horst Wagner (EFE)

Spanish acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Tuesday called Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez to share information about the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

Rajoy canceled a party rally in Ayamonte (Huelva) after other political leaders canceled their own events. Earlier, the Popular Party (PP) head had said that he would press on with the rally because it “made no sense” to change his agenda.

In his statement, Rajoy asked for “unity” in the face of jihadism, which threatens “all the countries that do not agree with their ideas.”

We are going to defend the democracy that it took us so long to achieve, and the way of life that 21st century Europe represents

Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera

He also said that there were as yet no confirmed Spanish victims among the more than 30 people who died in the airport and subway explosions in Brussels on Tuesday morning.

The Spanish embassy, consulate and foreign service are following the situation and a Spanish diplomat is in the subway area, added Rajoy.

Socialist leader Sánchez, who was in Tenerife, canceled his scheduled event at a research center and was booked on the first flight back to the mainland, said party sources.

“Today, we are all Brussels,” said Sánchez. “Liberty, solidarity and fraternity with the people of Brussels.”

Sánchez also revealed that he and Rajoy have agreed to activate the antiterrorism pact they signed a year ago to fight jihadism. The signatories of this pact, which include smaller parties, are scheduled to meet later Tuesday afternoon. Podemos, which did not sign, will attend as an observer. The Interior Ministry has also called a crisis meeting.

Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera, speaking in Congress, said that “we cannot look the other way. We are going to defend the democracy that it took us so long to achieve, and the way of life that 21st century Europe represents. There are those who don’t like it that we Europeans can travel in a Europe without borders and enjoy our free lives, but we are going to defeat them.”

The chief attorney at Spain’s National High Court has offered Belgium assistance in investigating the attacks

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, who attended the five minutes of silence called by the city of Madrid to honor the victims of the attacks, wrote on his Twitter account that he is at the government’s disposal “for whatever is necessary. All my support for the security forces and law enforcement.”

The Spanish royal family also expressed concern over the attacks in a Twitter message. “Our solidarity and support for Belgium, its institutions and the Belgian people,” they wrote.

Meanwhile, Javier Zaragoza, the chief attorney at Spain’s National High Court, has been in touch with Belgian federal attorney Frédéric Van Leeuw to offer assistance investigating the attacks.

English version by Susana Urra.

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