In English Voices From Spain

Imagine the Worst

Published originally in Spanish. Joaquim Coll. Crónica Global.

Some of us have been warning for years about separatism’s insurrectional strategy until sadly the incontestable reality of these days has proven us right. Although sometimes manipulation and lies can push an enlightened society to catastrophe, that end is not always written in advance. However, to prevent it, we must become aware of the worst thing that can happen. Let us say this clearly: the worst scenario could be eventually happening in Catalonia. The possibility of an armed conflict is no longer an unconceivable hypothesis and becomes plausible if in following days a unilateral declaration of independence takes place. Mr Mariano Rajoy’s government has had multiple occasions to stem that scenario, but he refused to see it. Now it becomes clear that the message of “prudence, restraint and proportionality” did not obey to any strategy; it just masked his inability to anticipate what was going underway in Catalonia. Nothing has been done and now the Spanish government can only act reactively in the middle of a socially revolutionary scenario after October 1st.

The possibility of a violent conflict derives from the ambiguous position of the Mossos, an armed force with more than 15.000 agents whose loyalty to the constitutional order is rather questionable in the upper echelons and also among many commanders. This was not the situation a few months ago, when Albert Batlle was in the position of general management of regional police, with Jordi Jané as counsellor for Home Affairs. They were replaced last July with two irredentist supporters of independence: Pere Soler and Joaquim Forn. But not only there has been a change of policy, also a significant alteration in the Mossos relationship with the pro-independence movement after two key moments: the terrorist attacks on August and the referendum last Sunday. The jihadist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils were used by Mr Puigdemont’s government to symbolically take the Mossos over. The Catalan Parliament, instead of creating a commission of inquiry to find out how it is possible that so many things failed in prevention of terror, he was quick to decorate them without any hint of criticism, while he sidelined National Police and Civil Guard. Sovereignism clergy encouraged the self-congratulation over the Mossos to lure them as the police for the “new state”. We don’t know the degree of its influence, but human psychology is very vulnerable to praises —including police.

The other defining moment took place last Sunday. What happened is on everyone’s mind. Major Josep Lluís Trapero followed the motto “I obey but not comply”, and set a trap for the colonel of Civil Guard, Diego Pérez de los Cobos, who tried to enforce —with improvisation and clumsiness— the orders of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia in the morning of October 1st. The havoc caused by some police excesses, which should be subjected to a commission enquiry in the Parliament and the minister Juan Ignacio Zoido’s resignation, has been devastating to the Catalan society, inflamed by a flood of images. Inexplicably, the Spanish government made the separatism’ speech on the repression by the national security forces look good, branded already as occupation forces to whom anyone can harass in cities like Calella, Pineda or Reus.

The Mossos, on the other hand, have become the patriotic police, to which the people throws flowers and applauses. With no doubt, all this can only alter the behaviour of many Mossos that are ideologically far from separatism, but can we drawn into following their political bosses’ dictates when they have to choose if they are within or outside the new laws at the time of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Collective passionate climates are instrumental in this type of situations. Similarly, we can presume that the Spanish state —despite suffering sclerosis in its operative apparatus and intelligence services, and lacking of political leadership—, it is not going to surrender easily, the armed clash against the Generalitat can be an unavoidable scenario. I hope nothing of this happens, but let us get to work to prevent it.


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