Spain In Crisis: Catalan Police Reject Madrid Takeover, Vow To "Resist"

Tyler Durden's picture

Spain found itself on the verge of a full-blown sovereign crisis on Saturday, after the "rebel region" of Catalonia rejected giving more control to the central government in defiance of authorities in Madrid who are trying to suppress an independence referendum on Oct. 1.

As tensions rise ahead of the planned Catalan referendum on October 1, and as Madrid's crackdown on separatist passions took a turn for the bizarre overnight when as we reported Spain’s plan to send boatloads of military police to Catalonia to halt the referendum backfired with dockers in two ports staging a boycott and refused access, on Saturday Spain's Public Prosecutor's Office told Catalan Police chief Josep Lluis Trapero that his officers must now obey orders from a senior state-appointed police coordinator, Spanish news agency EFE reported on Saturday.

The Catalan Police, however, disagreed and as Bloomberg reports, the SAP union - the largest trade group for the 17,000-member Catalan Police, known as Mossos d'Esquadra - said it would resist hours after prosecutors Saturday ordered that it accept central-government coordination. The rejection echoed comments by Catalan separatist authorities.

“We don’t accept this interference of the state, jumping over all existing coordination mechanisms,” the region’s Interior Department chief Joaquim Forn said in brief televised comments. “The Mossos won’t renounce exercising their functions in loyalty to the Catalan people.”

The Mossos are one of the symbols of Catalonia’s autonomy and for many Catalans the prosecutor’s decision may be reminiscent of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and subsequent dictatorship of Francisco Franco, when the Mossos were abolished.

In a joint press conference today with the Catalan home affairs minister Joaquim Forn and the Mossos chief Josep Lluís Trapero, Forn said that the move by Spain was "unacceptable".

“We denounce the Spanish government’s will of seizing the Mossos, as they did with Catalonia's finances" Forn said adding that that "the Catalan government does not accept this interference, it bypasses all the institutions that the current legal framework already has in place to guarantee the security of Catalonia." Additionally, Trapero expressed his intention to not accept the measure, which he described as "interference by the state", and also warned that "it skips over all the bodies of the legal framework to coordinate the security of Catalonia".

Catalan minister Joaquim Forn (L) with Mossos chief Josep Lluís Trapero

Earlier on Saturday, El Pais reported that Civil Guard Colonel Diego Perez de los Cobos, chief of staff of the Interior Ministry’s security department, was named by a prosecutor to coordinate the efforts of the Civil Guard, the National Police and the local Mossos.  Spanish media reported unnamed Home Office sources as saying the measure did not mean withdrawing any powers from the Mossos formally, but rather requiring them to submit to a joint coordination operation to stop the Catalan referendum taking place on October 1.

However, shortly after the reshuffling, Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero rejected giving up control to the central government during a meeting with the heads of the other police forces on Saturday, adding that all possible legal challenges would be studied. According to La Vanguardia Trapero "protested at that meeting about the decision to impose central government control" on the regional police force.

Also on Saturday morning, as the police meeting in Barcelona took place, the regional interior minister, Forn, published a defiant message on Twitter: "We will encounter many difficulties. The state wants to take control of our self-government, but they will not stop us! #HelloRepublic".

Ironically, as Bloomberg writes, while Mossos chief Trapero reports to the regional government, his force’s funding is mostly provided by Madrid and it’s supposed to take orders from judges and prosecutors from across the country. Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution lets the central government take control of a regional administration if it poses a threat to the national interest. Rajoy has already made moves in that direction.

Earlier this week, the budget ministry took over management of Catalan’s finances and will issue paychecks to more than 200,000 public workers in the region, including the police.

That said, any more direct challenge to the Mossos would be fraught with risk because Trapero, its leader, has become something of a local hero since leading the response to the terrorist attacks in August. Separatists are selling T-shirts with his face printed on them.

According to Reuters, the Catalan government also believes that the Mossos takeover bypasses the Catalan statute  - article 164 - and constitutional law and the Spanish prosecutor that ruled in favour of Madrid taking control had overstepped his legal boundaries, saying that it had no power to rule on who had the authority to issue orders to Mossos.

The prosecutor had ordered that the Catalan police, the Spanish National Police and Spain's Guardia Civil be managed from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Madrid. The decision, according to the prosecution, aims at "reinforcing the operation to prevent crime and to keep public order" a week before the October 1 independence referendum.


The decision was announced during a meeting between the prosecutor and the chiefs of the three police forces.

The disobedience will fuel further speculation the Mossos will not work with the national Civil Guard in Spain’s largest regional economy. The standoff came a day after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government acknowledged it’s sending more reinforcements to help control street demonstrations and carry out a separate court order to halt the vote.

Additionally, the latest move by Madrid will also increase the tension between the two sides which increasingly looks like it could descend into a direct confrontation as neither side appears to be willing to back down.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont speaking a pro-independence rally

Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s president, called the independence vote in an attempt to push the secession movement forward after decades of political and legal fights over the region’s traditions and language. Since Rajoy took office in 2011, he’s had persistent clashes with separatists seeking to foment a backlash against Madrid. Catalonia is home to about 7.5 million people, or 16 percent of the population, but accounts for a fifth of the economy, on a par with Portugal and Finland.

Several pro-independence groups have called for widespread protests on Sunday in central Barcelona. “Let’s respond to the state with an unstoppable wave of democracy,” a Whatsapp message which was used to organize the demonstration read.

The Catalonian government opened a new website on Saturday with details of how and where to vote on Oct. 1, challenging several court rulings that had blocked previous sites and declared the referendum unconstitutional.

“You can’t stem the tide,” Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont said on Twitter in giving the link to the new website.

But Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted again that the vote should not go ahead. “It will not happen because this would mean liquidating the law,” he said at the PP event in Palma de Mallorca. Acting on court orders, the Spanish state police has already raided the regional government offices, arrested temporarily several senior Catalan officials accused of organizing the referendum and seized ballot papers, ballot boxes, voting lists and electoral material and literature. The finance ministry in Madrid has also taken control of regional finances to make sure public money is not being spent to pay for the logistics the vote or to campaign.

How this escalating clash between Madrid and Catalonia is resolved over the coming week will define the fate of Spain for years to come.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
RagaMuffin's picture

LOL the Spain and the EU implode on the prospect of a ballot........ oh the irony

Looney's picture


... Catalan Police Reject Madrid Takeover

I wonder if the Catalan police is as “well-equipped” as ours.

Do they carry around RPGs, the Javelins, or ride around in Toyota trucks with anti-aircraft guns?

I betcha, their Civil Assets Forfeiture program ain’t as effective as ours.  ;-)


RagaMuffin's picture

They probably have at least one thing in common - they are baffled by the word ballot

knukles's picture

See what happens Larry?  You see what happens when you don't let people vote?  A stranger fucks you up the ass, Larry!


SofaPapa's picture

The Godchild of Brexit...

With Brexit, TPTB thought they could use propaganda to ensure people voted the "right" way.  They were wrong.

Now Rajoy is terrified.  Ironically, the last numbers I saw were that before all this escalation - so a couple of weeks ago - if the vote had been held, Catalans would probably have VOTED to stay in Spain, recognizing the logistical problems involved in leaving.  But with the ghost of Brexit haunting his perception, Rajoy is maintaining an absolute and hardcore stance that even the idea of a free expression of local opinion is counter to state security.

Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy!  Rajoy's own reaction has CREATED the monster he wants to slay.  Only a couple of weeks later, it's getting hard to imagine a majority of Catalans willingly ceding power to a government that is explicitly and forcefully denying them a say in the management of their own affairs.

One other historical precedent to keep in mind, however, is Greece ~2011.  Tsipras and Varoufakis seemed so genuine...

El mundo da vueltas...

fleur de lis's picture


The Catalans think that the EU will cut them a better deal if they join after leaving Spain.

The whole EU scam is at the root of all the chaos.

OverTheHedge's picture

Scotland has the same idea - as a tiny country, they automatically qualify for free money, whereas as part of a big country they had to pay. However, given that the EU can not possibly want all its member states carved up into tiny self regulating little enclaves with no political or military clout.....hang on.....oh.

Looks like the Balkans will be enlarged quite a bit, in the coming years.

MANvsMACHINE's picture

Catalonia should put one question to Spanish authorities and depending on the answer, it could end this confrontation.

"If you are opposed to us voting on October 1, what other date works for you?"

Mr 9x19's picture

The Catalans think that the EU will cut them a better deal if they join after leaving Spain.

The whole EU scam is at the root of all the chaos.

shut the fuck up donny !

macholatte's picture


“Careful man, there’s a beverage here!”

fleur de lis's picture

Nice Marxist rhetoric.

You should apply for work in Brussels -- you would fit right in.

caconhma's picture

The only stable and successful governments are by the people and for the people.

TheReplacement's picture

If I'm Rajoy and think like a tyrant then I might be looking at this as a crisis and you know what they say about a crisis.  Say, how is Erdogan doing these days?  Totally ensconsed in power, picking up new goodies from Russia, and eyeballing a chance to expand the empire, err, borders into Syria and Iraq... to fight terrorists.  Wow, and just a while ago everyone thought he was going to be deposed.

It seems like someone is always getting played.

BobEore's picture

Say, how is Erdogan doing these days?

Excellent analogy... to deconstruct your argument with.

In ANATOLIA... Srael is totally ensconsed in power, with a puppet phony-Islamist regime doing its' bidding, while tactical Sraeil partner Russia ramps up the machinery for the coming (tel aviv-teheran-moscow)energy monopoly transit corridor through their client state Turkey. Why 'depose' what you can gainfully employ... to achieve geo-strategic ends?

Rajoy and Co., meanwhile, are equally peripheral to events... which have a dynamic driving them strangely reminiscent of... the last time an authentic popular uprising against the State took place on the streets of Barcelona. And the same actors & forces are coalescing once again to defraud the same region of the same goals...

"The ‘May Days’ in Barcelona 1937 was the turning point of the Spanish Civil War and Spanish Revolution, when counter-revolutionary forces moved against the anarchists, imposing greater control over the Spanish working class and reintroducing capitalist modes of production."

|Within the first two weeks, the militia columns had conquered half of Aragon where they established libertarian (anarchist) communism, working closely with the Aragonese peasantry, as they lacked the ammunition and other supplies to proceed any further. The Barcelona arms industries were collectivized, but bank loans to these industries were denied by the government of the Second Spanish Republic in Madrid, under the influence of the Communists, who feared the libertarian movement above all.|...\The climate of distrust and confrontation was present not only among Republican institutions and workers organizations, but even between these organizations, especially among Anarchists, on the one hand, and Socialists, Communists and Catalan nationalists on the other./

Commies...Socialists(Madrid)...local bourgeoisie and international finance capital will gang together to remove the threat to the "STATE" once again... but with much more ease, this time round. There are no "Durruti Columns" this time round - the peeple have been put to sleep with their I-trinkets and 'social media' sleeping pills.

"“Long before the first shot was discharged in Barcelona, English and French cruisers were hurrying toward the port as if they had a prophetic presentiment of the things to come. If one takes all this into consideration, one asks oneself how much faith in the triumph of the anti-Fascist cause still exists among those people who invoke foreign protection against the workers of their own country?"

- Diego Abad de Santillan, Solidaridad Obrera, May 13, 1937.

80 years, 4 months, 21 days since the (communist-led)counter-revolution against Catalonia began...
password hint: communist=bolshevik=finance capital=tel aviv=mordor.

"and the people wept"

new game's picture

narcos or is it oilcos. seems like the petro dolla regime wasn't invited. hmmm, pablo/petro dolla is gonna die soon enought and the new players will not be the S/A petro dolla/see i ah cartel. the new sherrif is local and has better technology. putin is out manuvering this fiat paper ponzi with gold. ask china...

Simple Shit Maynard, SSM

Infinite QE's picture

"communist=bolshevik=finance capital=tel aviv=mordor."

F'ing brilliant.

Always felt Tolkien was on to the real root of the jew problem. Orc may have been code for jew.

Overflow's picture

Hmmmm.. the problem is Rajoy could never hold any referendum to break sovereignity even if he wanted to.

Even if all Spain could vote. Constitution does not allow. Constitution accepted by >90% of catalans, highest acceptance in Spain.

Sovereignity is on "The People of Spain" and you need to change the constitution to change that. That's all.

(ironically,  they cry victim role "Spain dont let us vote!!", when actually they dont want the 85% of affected people vote for their future. )


Now, lets talk about Bavaria,  Corsica, Greenland, North Italy... and how those countries are handling the situation. That's the rule to apply in Spain.

Sid James's picture

If you are so sure of your figures why not let Catalonia have a vote and put this matter to rest?

Overflow's picture

I did not explain good enough.


It's not a question of how many.  First, you have to change that Constitution declares Spain a unified nation and the "People of SPain" the origin of all sovereignity.   You just need about +-55% of vote to do that.


Illegal.  Government, police or any institutions can NOT pick which laws to follow. They MUST obbey the COnstitutional court. No option.

OverTheHedge's picture

Unlike the US, other countries have Constitutions that are more malliable. The Greeks change their constitution all the time: it just takes a majority vote of the theiving scumbags at the top and suddenly they have complete freedom from prosecution, for example.

.It would seem that the Spanish Parliament can make changes to the Constitution in the same way:

The Alarmist's picture

The. US Constitution is actually silent on secession, and has explicit procedures for ratifying amendments. If there is any inflexibility on secession, it is the creature of a Supreme Court ruling (White v. Texas, I believe), and if there is any reluctance to amend the Constituion via an Articl 5 vonvention of the States, it's because we have had it hammered into our heads in School that that would surely be the death of the union due to a runaway convention.

Overflow's picture

Yeah, you can change most of Spanish COnstotution with a "normal" majority, easy and fast.


But, to change  the core articles, those defining the Nation, Sovereignity and power structures, you need higher majority.  60% of Congress and Senate, twice.

I think it's the samewith most western Constitutions, and I think it's very reasonable to require such a syrong majority to change the basic rules.

Teja's picture

Well, you don't seem to understand that independence usually means a break with an existing legal framework. If the American revolutionaries had followed the legal procedures for independence from the UK, Independence Day would have been in the late 1800's, or even later. And the US citizens would still bow to the Queen as their head of state.

Scottish independence might be different, if it comes, because the UK has learned that it is not possible to hold on to a territory if the citizens of that territory want to break free. Spain has had that lection, too, with the South American colonies first, then with some African colonies in the 20th century, but that lection is now quite forgotten and far away. And to my knowledge, all of its colonies had to fight their way to freedom in the past, or were annexed by the US after a war.


Overflow's picture

Do you mean independence by force? A civil war.   We spainards wrote the hand book. And guerrilla is a spanish word.


We learnt the lesson: follow the law to avoid the war.


Scotland, Quebec or Czech republic are nor applicable expamples. They were sovereign nations before signing those unions.  Catalonia is core Spain sice the very beginning. 

Overflow's picture

only +-30% of catalans want independence

about 60% want referendum, but half of them reject this banana republic way they chose.

But in a recent poll we saw about 50% of people in Catalonia is happy with the Constitutional Court resolutions and Madrid actions.  20%, almost half of them, claimed for more force against them.  They are just silent, most of them.



Déjà view's picture

1667...Portugal from Spain...after Spanish recognition of Portuguese INDEPENDENCE...
1700...Netherlands from Spain..Spanish control was lost when Charles II of Spain died without issue (1700)
1905...Norway from Sweden....
1918...Austrian-Hungarian & German Empire end creating numerous nations of europe...
1920...Ireland from Great Britain & N. Ireland from Ireland...
1944...Iceland from Denmark...
1991...Yugoslavian breakup...builds after IRON FIST Tito died 1980.
1993...Czech & Slovakia Republics...
2017...Catalonia from CASTILLIAN España...
2018...Scotland/Wales/N. Ireland from U.K.
2018...Flanders & Wallonia...

Castillians...back to your siesta...let Catalonians work...

OverTheHedge's picture

If this map comes to pass, Brussels will be the new Washington, but without all the politics, just the corruption and chaos.

Vageling's picture

We both know that map will never come to pass. For the most simple reason: you can't have your cake and eat it. You can't declare independence and expect others to finance you. If it was that easy Europe would exist out of 100's of small countries by now. And the corruption and chaos is already here from the DC in Europe. They just want more of it. Gotta love that inpatient Juncker running off his mouth. 

Overflow's picture

Most f those s nation broke after WAR.   We'll still talking about law.   I agree, if no law ten we have war. 


But Catalonia has no army, and only a very very few of them will ever face any opposition.  They have much to lose and nothing to win but poverty.  There will be no independence.


Czech/Slovaquia  and Scotland/UK examples are not applicable.  They were sovereign nations that signed a Union treaty with clause of rejection.  Catalonia has never been svoereign. Never. It's been core part of Spain since the very beggining.      You'd better compare us with Germany (bavaria), France (Corsica), Italy (northern provinces), Denmark (Greenland)...

Déjà view's picture

Portugal was NEVER sovereign before it gained independence from España...NEVER...

When was Ireland/N. Ireland a sovereign nation before 1920?


Teja's picture

Portugal was NEVER sovereign before it gained independence from España...NEVER...

Sorry, but that is totally wrong. Portugal was in a personal union with Spain from 1580 to 1640, but before that time it was a sovereign kingdom famous for its seafaring discoverers like Ferdinand Magellan.

Overflow's picture

Were in a loop around the key point.


Law or war.


Catalonia has no support of the current law, has no army or any force to break that force, not enough determined people to collapse anything, no money or funds to support any adventure, and no nation or  relevant institution defending their position.


Ther will be no independence.

BobEore's picture

For a minute, I thought you might have the beginnings of an argument...

then I realized it was all a mirage.

"Catalonia has never been svoereign. Never. It's been core part of Spain since the very beggining."

In 1137, Catalonia and the Kingdom of Aragon were united by marriage under the Crown of Aragon. The Constitucions Catalanes, were the laws promulgated by the King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona and approved by the Catalan Courts(Corts) The first constitutions were promulgated by the Corts of 1283. The last ones were promulgated by the Corts of 1705. They had pre-eminence over the other legal rules and could only be revoked by the Catalan Courts themselves... something which never actually happened.

The presence of a de facto constitution and body of law which have never been repealed by ANY legislative process, and the existence of those same from a time similar to that of Scotland - an example which you use in your argument...

drives a wide body truck through your attempted formulation of a historical case against independence ... leaving you without a case, except for your characterization of the present devolved state of society there - pretty much the same as everywhere else.

Overflow's picture

Yes, the united under the Kingdom of Aragon, and Aragon united to Castillia by marriage too.   They joined their kingdoms to form a single one, practically inventing the modern juridic nations.    That0s what I mean Catalonia (aragon) is part of Spain since the very beginning.


But that's not the origin of "Spain".  There is "Spain" as a political and geographical entity sice roman Hispania province. And, again, Catalonia area was not there, it is a part of the bigger Tarraconensis Hispania province.

land_of_the_few's picture

You forgot to mention Norway was previously in Denmark-Norway kingdom (personal union) and that the subsequent Sweden-Norway kingdom was caused by Denmark-Norway being aligned with Napoleonic forces and thereby pissing off the Coalition forces who won against Napoleon, i.e. they backed the losing side and the northern part (Norway) were given to Sweden by the victors. Yes, Norway did fight a 3-week war with Sweden to avoid being given to them but that went exactly as you might imagine ... they gave up since it looked increasingly like a bad idea.

Additionally many of the other countries/unions you list were not created by invasions, such as the UK which was a personal union of Crowns, and basically a commercial deal.

Yugoslavian *breakup*? !! Nothing to do with islamists trained and armed by the West then, or NATO (i.e. the US) attacking a sovereign European nation mostly on the whim of a Serb-hater Czech lady who used to study herself in Belgrade, then later decided to give it some death from above from the safety of her adopted nation across the Atlantic? Some of those countries are still full of freshly-installed islamists and some are run by organ-harvesting drug/gun-running gangsters.

Don't think you'll find many N. Ire people voting to exit the UK ... unless you know better than them? They're the part that didn't want to separate from UK when Southern Ireland left. That should give you some kind of a clue.

By the way, this means that Norwegian and Danish are mutually intelligible languages, but apparently Danes see Norwegians as speaking rather old-fashioned but very clear-sounding language, and the Danes are seen as being a bit mumbly-sounding kind of city-dwelling modernists ...


Teja's picture

... and lots more, in the recent past Kosovo from Serbia, East Timor from Indonesia, South Sudan from Sudan (the least successful case I know of), Eritrea from Ethiopia (not really nice, either)...

Luckily, the cases which happened in Europe usually were quite successful, at least more successful than the original countries which were broken up. Probably the same with the two cases you predict for 2018.

Galahad Threepwood's picture

Another war with white people killing white people. 


Now (((who))) do you think that benefits?


Not white people, that's for sure

boattrash's picture

Maybe, but it almost sounds fun to go fight in a Spanish Civil War...good practice.

Also, good on those cops for not following orders that they may find immoral.

the_narrator's picture

What's weird is how this all came out of nowhere.  It's might as well have been academic as motor oil prices in Estonia last week and now here is this thing, like a Trump victory, that everyone has been trying to ignore up to now rocking the world's front pages.  I wonder if there are other things like this out there.

Al Gophilia's picture

Hola Republica! What form of Republic?;  that is the question.

IH8OBAMA's picture

Maybe California and Catalonia could form a government together and declare the Pacific Ocean their property.  They could call this new country Calilonia or maybe Catifornia.

Barney Fife's picture

God knows you always need a Javelin when responding to a domestic violence incident. You never know when you're gonna need to smoke a guy's wheels when he's fighting with his wife. 

sinbad2's picture

I'm sure the US has a load of weapons(humanitarian aid) flying to Spain right now.

Overflow's picture

ZH is wrong again.


The head of the Catalonian police have declared he disagrees but will obbey orders from the court.  Of course he will!

And about 95% of that police is and will keep loyal to Constitution.  The Catalonian giv. changed the head of that Polic a few moths ago, giving the office to this poor idiot.


I'll tell you all again:  This is a farce. A smoke screen to cover the real situation of Spain, and both parties in the play will get electoral benefits.


There will be no independence.    Come on! 

Overflow's picture

ZH says

"That said, any more direct challenge to the Mossos would be fraught with risk because Trapero, its leader, has become something of a local hero since leading the response to the terrorist attacks in August. Separatists are selling T-shirts with his face printed on them."




No, no, the Mosso d'Esquadra that shot down the jihadists was an (non catalan) former-legionnaire.


Trapero is a known nationalist put in the office a few months ago by the Catalonian govern, trying to hijack the Mossos action in this episode of the never-ending melodrama.  Childish.



monk27's picture

Here's the thing smartass. If you don't let those people hold a proper referendum then, regardless of what happens in the end, they'll keep blaming you for everything under the sun and do their damn best to organize another one, then another one, until they'll get one "fair" (which they'll win). If Rajoy were a little closer of being intelligent (I know, what a concept...) he would have tried to win it fair and square, the way the Canadians did with Quebec or the Brits with Scotland. After that he could have claimed the high ground and shut the separatists off for at least a reasonable amount of time (while rubbing their noses into it just for fun... :)

Overflow's picture

Bah... they've been on this victim role for two hundred years.  We're used to it. In Catalonia too.


The problem is the government can NOT do that Referendum, not in Catalonia or all Spain, because Constitution does not allow it. There`s a procedure to change COnstitution if you have a strong majority.  Meanwhile, law rules. You can not pick which laws to follow, neither gov. or police can.


Scotland was a sovereign country before and after the union. Catalonia never was. It's been Spain since the very beginning of it.


Germany banned referendum for bavarians, France to Corsica, North Italy, Greenland, Ucrania....   That's the rule to apply in Spain.


Referendum for independence of Silicon Valley?  Liverpool and/or Manchester?  Really?





monk27's picture

Really ! If enough people get to believe that your great Contitution doesn't represent them, then it's just a piece of paper. No country can survive without its people's consent, regardless of what the laws "du jour" say...