In English Voices From Spain

Where is the Disproportion?

Originally published in Spanish. Félix Ovejero & Alejandro Molina. El País.

It is unconceivable that someone could describe as “error” or “ineptitude” that law enforcement agents, with a court order prohibiting the “referendum”, complied precisely with their duty. Where is the error? In the employment of force? Look: anti riot police agents are not word-thinkers that get things done through the deliberative methods of persuading someone who is illegally taking over public spaces. Law enforcement intervenes when the offender, who persists in his/her behaviour, has disengaged of the deliberative phase, which precisely was ended by an ignored court rule, so the employment of force is what remains. For the Law is just the force: is the rule to determine, in a conflict, who can employ the force and how much. Is not possible to be intellectually, like Pedro Sánchez, “in favour of legality” and against its effectiveness.

We are talking about police agents that had to execute a court order to evacuate public spaces previously seized by organized groups with complete logistic and material support of an entire regional Administration, acting with criminal defiance and in coordination with the overwhelming majority of armed public forces. Public forces that, instead of complying to the court rule to which was obliged to, in some cases they even obstructed its execution and cooperated with the seditious. The very serious responsibilities (enormous and historically unprecedented in Europe) that this inconceivable behaviour represents to a police armed force remain to be calibrated.

Disproportion? According to some accounts, disenchanted about the effectiveness of Law, almost 2,3 million of “voters” would have been “repressed”. Leaving aside the fact that police action was restricted —spatial and subjectively— to those that were impeding by force the execution of the court order, and not to the “voters”, it is an affront to the mere logic of facts that the “brutal repression” of millions of people resulted in the “brutal” number of two people hospitalised —one of them was the poor old man with a heart attack. If we look into the “injured” people, according to the Generalitat’s estimation, they were 800, so then we are talking about “attended to” people, (in other words, people who did not put a foot on a hospital but received examination and diagnosis on the street), including fainting, anxiety attacks and irritation caused by smoke inhalation. And let’s not forget that we are talking about supposedly 2 million of people urged on the previous days by the Generalitat itself, its leaders and its formidable media scheme, to engage on criminal acts to prevent by force the execution of a court order. And the result are 2 people hospitalised, one of them for a heart attack? Where is the disproportion in this employment of force?

Finally, it is disheartening the intellectual and professional level of Spanish media, even when they don’t act driven by spurious interests. Yesterday we saw a headline on a Catalan newspaper, rather unbiased to date, that read: “European leaders criticise police action, and call to dialogue”, illustrating the newspiece with a picture of Angela Merkel and —as we know by now— a falsity: The German chancellor would have called Mr Rajoy to ask after the injured people”. What I did right away was reading the whole text; of course, there wasn’t any trace of Merkel, and none of the European “leaders” were leading anything, because apart from the Belgian who is ruling in coalition with Flemish nationalists (what a coincidence!), neither a single Head of State nor any European prime minister did other thing than support the rule of law in Spain. The remaining “leaders” were just ringleaders of nationalist movements, such the Scotland’s, or politicians and even former candidates of opposition parties in their respective countries, whose proposals would amount to those of Podemos in Spain.

Media and public opinion would do much better if once for all they become responsibly aware about the coming challenge, and, as an adult society, we assume the fact that rights and freedoms recognized by law in democracy must be guaranteed —by force, if necessary—, specially when those who challenge them are flagrantly flouting the current laws.

As a warning: The Article 155 leads to a resolution by the government, previously endorsed by the Senate, with the needed steps to compel a region that threatens the general interest to the forceful compliment of its obligations in order to protect such interest. But to take those steps effectively, force might be necessary again, so let’s hope that if the moment arrives, they don’t had on their side an armed force that again circumvents legality. And, if this happens, at least public opinion should assume with democratic maturity how the state works —any state.


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