Catalan police: interior minister denies political interference amid opposition criticism
Spanish government cools down threat of deploying its own officers in Catalonia
The Catalan interior minister Miquel Buch has denied any political interference in the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s own police body, thus putting down claims from opposition parties that the government ordered officers to be lenient with pro-independence protesters.
The Mossos found themselves in the political crossfire following a surge of demonstrations in recent days. While Buch and even president Quim Torra criticized the police body for cracking down on antifascist protesters and leaving several injured, the blocking of major highways by pro-independence supporters sparked criticism among unionist parties, who claimed the police body should have stopped them from disrupting traffic.
Torra is now coming out in support of the Mossos after the Spanish government threatened to deploy its own police officers in Catalonia, in order to guarantee public order ahead of a cabinet meeting to be held in Barcelona on December 21.
"While you’re fostering violence with one hand, you’re preventing the Mossos from intervening with the other"
Carlos Carrizosa · Cs spokesperson
Madrid also softened its tone on Wednesday, with Spanish vice president Carmen Calvo expressing confidence in the Catalan government and the Mossos’ ability to guarantee security.
In an effort to solve the recent crisis over the Catalan police, Torra announced the creation of a table for dialogue comprising the Mossos, civil society associations, and grassroots movements.
Opposition doubles down on criticism
But opposition parties doubled down on their criticism against the Catalan government on Wednesday despite Buch’s accounts.
"While you’re fostering violence with one hand, you’re preventing the Mossos from intervening with the other," said Carles Carrizosa, the parliamentary spokesperson for main opposition Ciutadans party.
Xavier García Albiol, an MP for the People’s Party, took on president Torra saying "every word he says is a humiliation for the Mossos’ dignity” accusing him of being an "agitator, a revolutionary, and a threat to the coexistence of Catalans."
Both parties called on Spain’s ruling Socialist party to trigger Article 155, a constitutional device allowing the central government to take over Catalan institutions, used last year following a declaration of independence.
Calvo responded to their demands arguing that the use of Article 155 last year did not improve the political situation in Catalonia, and stressed that triggering "exceptional measures" wouldn’t solve it either.