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An exceptionally rapid president Torra has --surely unintentionally, but who knows if he was very poorly advised as on other occasions-- opened a crisis of uncertain outcome in the Catalan interior ministry after reprimanding the Mossos d'Esquadra police and demanding that the minister responsible for them, Miquel Buch, come up with a solution. The order which the Catalan president gave to his cabinet minister has a time limit of Tuesday and follows the violent images seen of the Mossos' policing actions in Girona and Terrassa on Spain's Day of the Constitution, last Thursday. Torra has made a gesture of authority which obviously cannot be ignored. Anyone who thinks this can be resolved without resignations is either very naïve on these matters or knows very little about political dynamics: a president may either respond or not in a conflict, but if he does so, and is then undermined by the facts, the result is always much worse than having made no comment.

The truth is that the crossfire between the team accompanying the president on his two-day trip to Slovenia and the staff of the interior ministry was impossible to subdue all day on Friday. From the ministry there were annoyed responses to Torra's move, given that in addition, they were having their own problems with the Mossos and the unions, who feel that their actions on Thursday have been brought into question. Some of the images of the police actions are totally unacceptable and disproportionate for a democratic police force, due to their extreme and unwarranted violence. Without making any judgement on the operation that had been mounted, violence has been too common for several months and this needs to be a matter of ongoing concern. It is also quite shocking, though politically explainable, that the three main unionist parties, the PSC, Cs and the PP, have come out in defence of the Mossos and have focused their criticisms on Buch. The minister was also criticised and his resignation called for by the CUP.

From various sectors of the independence movement, it is often claimed that the imposition of direct rule via article 155 for several months by the Spanish government has left an obvious consequence in the Catalan Mossos police, and that the absence of former chief Trapero in decision-making has left the police corps in a limbo in which the political and police leaderships barely maintain a mutual forced tolerance. Which, at root, is something very different from complicity. And particularly critical eyes are placed on, in particular, the officers of the Mobile Brigade, known as the Brimo, and those of the ARRO (Regional Operational Resources Areas), two units that possess anti-riot material and functions.

The deadline that Torra has set runs out in a few days time. It would be logical that in this collision the minister would end up discarding some member of his team if he wants to provide the Catalan president with a dignified way out.

 
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