Riots and police reaction
This Wednesday, Catalonia experienced a second day of violent protests against the imprisonment of Pablo Hasél, the rapper convicted for the content of his songs and tweets. The frustration and anger the sentence has caused is understandable, but in no way does it justify the attacks against police stations, street furniture or shops that have been seen in recent hours. It is clear that, along with people who only wanted to show their indignation at what is a true democratic disgrace by exercising their right to demonstrate, there have been organised violent groups seeking direct confrontation with the police or even looting. The assault on the police station in Vic was a very serious episode in which the integrity of the agents was endangered.
But in the same way it must be underlined that the images of a woman with a bloody eye allegedly due to a foam bullet fired by the police in Barcelona questions the model of public order. This is especially true considering the impact of the Ester Quintana case, who lost an eye due to a rubber bullet fired by police in 2012. A thorough investigation will be needed to find out what happened, and protocols and procedures must be changed again, as when the use of rubber bullets was banned. It cannot be that every time there are similar situations we have to lament irreversible personal injuries like this one.
We must also be aware that behind this outburst of anger there are complex phenomena that cannot be ignored. The situation of health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic has caused the restriction of the right to free movement, the closure of many businesses and the feeling that the solution is far away. Although this is completely justified from a health perspective, it means that we are all sitting on a social powder keg, a volcano ready to erupt at any moment. Similar images to the one we have seen these days have also been seen in countries like the Netherlands or Germany. Add to this the Spanish government's inability to respond to democratic challenges such as the one posed by Catalonia and the general feeling of regression in terms of fundamental rights, and we have a poisonous cocktail which could lead to the situation on the streets to potentially boil over.
There are young people for whom doors are being closed, who are unemployed or who cannot even attend classes at universities or schools, and who see a bleak future ahead of them. And the Hasél case has been nothing more than a spark that has ignited a situation of indignation that goes back a long way. That's why the authorities have to focus on, on the one hand, preventing cases like Hasél's from happening again with an urgent reform of the Penal Code and, on the other hand, on offering a future to many young people who today feel they have none. The danger of having a "lost generation" is too great not to devote all the necessary efforts to avoid it.