Waterloo (Belgium), Aug 4 (EFE). – The Villa de Waterloo to which Carles Puigdemont returned last Saturday from Germany has lost in a week much of the institutional symbology that accompanied the return of the former president of the Generalitat to housing from that comfortable residential area near Brussels, now converted into a sort of pilgrimage point for its followers.
Only a discreet square to the right of the door where you can read “House of the Republic” identifies the residence, which on the left flank of the garden shows two bare masts about five meters high.
They have withdrawn the flags of Catalonia and the European Union raised in a solemn political event to celebrate the return of Puigdemont to Belgium after the withdrawal of the euroorden that weighed on him by the Spanish judicial authorities, who still claim on Spanish soil.
A white metal railing adorned with six pots is all that can be seen on the balcony of the stately home where the former Catalan president appeared on Saturday along with the president of the Generalitat, Quim Torra; rapper Valtonyc, lawyer Ben Emmerson and former regional councilors similar to his: Toni Comín, Lluis Puig, Meritxell Serret and Clara Ponsatí.
No sign of the banner claiming in English “freedom for political prisoners and exiles” when Puigdemont addressed a large group of media and about 350 people, according to the police, who applauded him from the meadow in front.
Green and fluffy when Puigdemont settled in Waterloo in March, that meadow is now a yellowish secarral, victim of the hottest and hottest month of July in Belgium since 1981.
In the background, a dozen followers of Puigdemont divided into two groups are sitting under the shade of some trees, the only refuge from a sun of justice past noon.
They carry independence flags and are sitting or reclining on the lawn chatting, in a very summery picture. While driving on vacation, some have forced a stop in front of the famous house.
A smiling woman takes a picture next to the mailbox of the house. Another lady, wearing a yellow dress, talks to a man in casual clothes who is on the other side of the red and white chain that marks the property. Without a hint of enthusiasm in the presence of media, both claim that they are not recorded.
Yannkic, father of a family that lives about 200 meters from Puigdemont, tells Efe that the former president is discreet, but inopportune that the meadow that also ends his own home has become a place of pilgrimage.
“It is true that we chose this neighborhood because it is a quiet neighborhood and now it will clearly be less calm than before (…) Your ‘fan club’ comes often, to take pictures, to sunbathe. and snacking to get some money, it’s a bit like a zoo in the open, “he says.
Yannick is a French speaker, describes himself as a Belgian who defends the unity of the country and openly criticizes the separatist aspirations of the Flemish nationalist party N-VA that has enveloped Puigdemont in Belgium.
“While it is your residence, very well, welcome to Waterloo, but I would not like it to become your headquarters where things happen, where there is a rush of partisans, especially the NV-A,” he says of the house.
The neighbor next to Puigdemont is Vittorio, a retired Italian who has always been very attentive to journalists since the pro-independence politician settled in the garden next door.
“He has said that it will be a kind of representation center for Catalonia here, it is something he decides to do, if he wants to settle here, he must decide, taking into account the legislative situation that exists in Spain, explains Vitotrio, also understanding the “100 or 150 followers” who attended the welcome act on Saturday.
The house has security day and night, explain in the neighborhood. And the police pass every day to observe the house, now converted into a sort of office where there is no record that Puigdemont sleeps every night.
Your neighbors think so, but they do not know it. The vehicle with tinted windows that transports you goes directly into the garage and the doors are closed. Since last Saturday they have not seen the politician again, only his collaborators, who are extremely friendly with the communal authorities and the neighbors.