Fights, destruction of public furniture, robberies, attacks on police vehicles, looting and looting in shops … are some of the scenes that have left the three days of macro-bottle on the weekend of La Mercè in Barcelona, the most rugged on Saturday. Three nights in which there have been more than 80 people treated by the medical services and almost fifty detainees, due to incidents that all the institutions have seen with concern, but for which no one assumes responsibility. The City Council and the Generalitat pass the buck, although on Sunday their police officers worked together, and both evade responsibility for what happened.
This Monday the Catalan parties have crossed accusations, demands for resignation and requests for appearances and extraordinary plenary sessions. While the last twelve detainees at night were released and investigated for public disorder, attack on agents of the authority and damages, among other crimes.
The mayor of Barcelona was the first to point to the Government in an attention made to the media from the Plaza de España, ground zero of the bottle in the early hours of Saturday. “It is a matter of public order,” said the mayor, “I have asked the Minister of the Interior to have a reinforcement so that what happened tonight does not happen again.” A few hours later, the leader of the “comuns” in Congress, Jaume Asens, wrote a message in which he recalled that competition in public order belongs to the Generalitat. “Don’t be fooled,” asked Asens.
The municipal opposition of ERC and Junts counterattacked the statements of the mayor, forcing the convening of a full monograph in the City Council on the altercations. As they defend, the prevention device planned by the Government of Colau for the Mercè festivities was “deficient”. In addition, they directly accuse the mayor and the deputy mayors Jaume Collboni – leader of the local PSC – and Albert Batlle – responsible for security – of “centering” responsibilities.
“In Barcelona all limits have been passed: overflowing public space, from incivility to crime, lost authority. The number or presence of non-Barcelonians is no excuse. Municipal government synonymous with total impotence. that we do want, “wrote the opposition leader in the town hall, Ernest Maragall (ERC).
But the institutional clash was not going to end here. This Monday Catalunya en Comú has announced that it will demand the appearance in Parliament of the Minister of the Interior, Joan Ignasi Elena. The formation’s spokesperson, Joan Mena, has accused ERC, which has assumed the Interior portfolio for the first time in this legislature, of “washing its hands” regarding the riots. “We want to get rid of the partisan mud that some want to impose: less mud and more cooperation between all administrations to solve a complex problem,” said Mena, who has reproached ERC for blaming the City Council.
At practically the same time that the “comuns” announced this request, ERC spokesperson Marta Vilalta charged Colau, who she assured that “she always finds ways to blame others” while she “does not assume her own responsibilities.” Vilalta has not objected to Elena being able to appear in Parliament, but has assured that the Government and the Mossos fulfilled their work, while the device on Saturday night, the most conflictive, was organized “unilaterally” by the Urban Guard.
The Barcelona security councilor, Albert Batlle, has been another of those responsible who has spoken this Monday about the situation, in his case as a representative of the candidacy of the PSC-Units in the municipal government. Batlle has assured that “after a complicated summer” in terms of occupation of public space, this weekend there has been “a turning point”. “This has become a public order problem,” Batlle said. But the head of the Urban Guard, far from making any self-criticism of the proposed device, has targeted Quim Torra, out of politics for a year, and the president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs.
“We have a problem when the president of the Generalitat one day at 12 noon leaves his office, puts on some sneakers and goes to cut the main artery of the country. Or when the president of the Parliament, while they are burning the Mossos police station from Vic, Pablo Hasél is going to be seen in the Lleida prison. This does not happen for free. It gives an image that may have the derivatives that it has, “said the councilor, drawing a direct line between the bottles and pro-independence protests after the sentence of the process of almost two years ago, when the pandemic had not even started.
Nor has the minister Joan Ignasi Elena intoned the “mea culpa” in the appearance he made this Monday, in his case from the municipality of Tiana, where they have also suffered altercations related to street parties. For Elena, you have to separate the bottles of violent incidents and act differently with respect to each thing. “One thing is the bottles and the other the criminal attitudes, which will be persecuted,” he said. On the other hand, on the consumption of drinks in the street, Elena has called for a reflection on nightlife.
“There are causes that are structural and other temporary, such as the closure of nightlife venues and the pandemic situation we are experiencing,” he assured. Therefore, Elena has ensured that the Government is “reflecting” on the possible reopening of nightlife, one of the latest restrictions due to the pandemic that was relaxed last week, allowing the terraces of the premises to be opened until 3 in the morning .
After the dialectical and blame-sharing battle in which the institutions have entered, the truth is that on Sunday the incidents were less than on Saturday, despite the fact that the influx of people was comparable. While at dawn between Friday and Saturday there were about 40,000 people between Avenida Maria Cristina and Plaza de España, the following night the police estimated 30,000 who concentrated on Bogatell beach. Although there were incidents and crimes in both, if this second was somewhat quieter, it was, among other reasons, due to the joint arrangement between the Mossos and the Urban Guard, better dimensioned than that of the previous night, according to both institutions.
However, both nights there was furniture destruction, theft from individuals and looting, both in shops in the Sants neighborhood and in Front Marítim premises, a circumstance that worries the police, who fear that these chapters will end up becoming chronic in Barcelona. The director of the Mossos, Pere Ferrer, ensures that these actions are the work of small groups of violent people who do not come to make a bottle, but use the large influx of people to commit crimes. A consideration in which Batlle has also agreed, who has assured that there are groups that take advantage of the crowds as a “pretext for crime and pillage.”