An unsurmountable limit
That the riots following the demonstrations and protests of these days - whose trigger was the imprisonment of Pablo Hasél but which include a wide range of demands - were taking a worrying turn was already perceived with the assault on the police station in Vic, on the 16th of February. But seeds of higher levels of aggressiveness were already visible. Ten days earlier an incendiary device had been thrown at the Matadepera local police headquarters and the Vic train station was seriously vandalised. And still on October 31st a demonstration in Barcelona against the anti-covid restrictions - linked by the Mossos to extreme right-wing groups - ended with 14 people arrested, 23 policemen injured and several lootings.
Given the context, the truth is that on Saturday in Barcelona this common denominator of violence - regardless of its purpose - exceeded an unsurmountable limit, as is clearly and intentionally endangering the life of the Guardia Urbana officer who was inside the police vehicle that was set on fire. The images are clear: a first incendiary device that explodes but far from the van, a flare that stays underneath it, a second device that also stays underneath it but does not go off, and then a person who throws flammable liquid so that, finally, the van goes up in flames.
The police have made at least one arrest related to this unfortunate event. The police investigation and the judicial action (we will have to see what charges are brought against them) will follow its course. But as a society we have to question ourselves deeply around this escalation and this - hopefully - maximum episode lived on Saturday. Two interviews in this Sunday's edition of the ARA contributed important concepts The consul of the United States in Barcelona, Robert Riley, in reference to the assault on the Capitol, said: "We not only have to look at the flames, but at what is underneath. Many people feel ignored and unheard. We have to listen." And the dean of the Col·legi d'Economistes de Catalunya, Oriol Amat, spoke of "unacceptable inequalities" in society. This step is essential in order to make a careful diagnosis of the situation.
However, making these reflections does not imply looking the other way or far less justifying violence. On the contrary. Catalonia has a strong tradition in the culture of non-violence and passive resistance, and it is necessary to bear this in mind. Many political forces have been tempted at one time or another to appease certain violent attitudes depending on the sign of the protest. Now all eyes are on the CUP, which, in view of the incident with the Urbana on Saturday, has finally spoken of a limit that cannot be surpassed.
Everyone agrees that, in parallel to the struggle against covid, we must get to work to reverse the inseparable social and economic crises. To do this, we must have a Parliament, a Government and budgets, and begin to implement social policies and support for businesses, with good management of access to anti-pandemic funds as a key element. All this cannot become a syllogism that ends up saying that to solve the country's problems we must change the police model. This is a debate that needs to be conducted calmly. In the heat of the moment, we must de-escalate the violence and get to work.