After 58 days, the Tweety Pie ship leaves Barcelona
Since September of this year, Barcelona’s residents have grown used to living in difficult circumstances, with Spanish Police vans patrolling the streets and one or more helicopters hovering over the city
Since September of this year, Barcelona’s residents have grown used to living in difficult circumstances, with Spanish Police vans patrolling the streets and one or more helicopters hovering over the city. By stationing between 6,000 and 10,000 officers here, clearly someone is very keen on making the police presence felt. These are the same police officers who were responsible for committing acts of violence against defenceless members of the public on 1 October. The images were broadcast round the world, though some, such as Spain’s Foreign Minister, deny any such acts of violence.
Yesterday, however, after 58 days, the symbol of this police presence, the cruise ship decorated with Tweety Pie and other Looney Tunes characters, left the port of Barcelona. Nevertheless, it set sail with no one aboard: the Guardi Civil and Spanish police it housed have remained in Catalonia, since the Spanish government plans to continue with what is known as Operation Copernicus until the end of the year. The operation was specifically designed to disrupt the referendum and the independence process through the use of force. Although Spain’s Interior Ministry has ruled that the cost of the operation will remain a state secret, experts such as the economist Modest Guinjoan estimate that some €192 million have been spent on travel expenses, accommodation and meals alone.
Nevertheless, the major damage wrought by Operation Copernicus, aside from the physical harm done to the one thousand individuals who were injured on 1 October, thanks to the use of material prohibited in Catalonia, such as rubber bullets, is the negative impact that the police violence has had on Barcelona’s image. This impact, unquantifiable in economic terms and the damage that has been done to the city’s reputation, is directly attributable to the Spanish government’s actions.
However, far from apologising for those who were injured or for the disproportionate measures taken by the police, Spain’s Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido took it upon himself to congratulate and decorate those responsible for the outrage, while punishing the Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, who acted impeccably on both 1 October and 20 September. The last straw was the way in which the head of the Mossos, Josep Lluís Trapero, was removed from office and assigned to administrative duties.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Operation Copernicus was specifically designed to spread fear among the populace and demonstrate that Spain is prepared to use force at any time. Keeping individuals in custody without bail seeks the same objective. This is the State we live in.