That Sunday in Catalonia a “perfect storm” broke out (expression of one of the Interior police commanders of the time) whose effects were felt intensely for months and whose tails are still perceived today. The harsh images of national police and civil guards trying to prevent the votes of 1-O and confronting citizens went around the world and five years are still in the retina of many. The Government of Mariano Rajoy considered those events as an inevitable outcome of the orderliness of the Executive of Carles Puigdemont, however there are many protagonists of those days who believe that the pitched battle of 1-O could have been avoided and that a host of errors of different signs came together so that the outcome was the one that occurred.
The biggest failure in the history of the CNI
Without a doubt, if the polls had not reached the 2,300 polling stations, 1-O would not have existed as such. Or it would have been very different. In fact, getting the image of citizens voting in improvised cardboard boxes was from the first moment the great obsession of the intelligence services and the analysts of the Ministry of the Interior, knowing that this photograph would destroy a good part of the legitimacy of the referendum, especially at the international level.
The secret services did not come close to finding the ballot boxes that since the end of July were in three containers in the port of Marseille
The CNI, as sources from ‘La Casa’ have revealed in recent weeks, assigned close to a thousand full-time troops to find the ballot boxes. But they weren’t even close. The secret services, probably in the greatest ridicule of their history, did not have a single indication that the 10,000 urns manufactured by a Chinese company in Guangzhou had been in three containers in the port of Marseille since the end of July 2017. Nor did the CNI find out anything when on August 14 three trucks took the 800 boxes with the ballot boxes to a warehouse in the French-Catalan town of Illa. Neither the National Police nor the Civil Guard nor the CNI managed to intercept one of the hundreds of private cars that introduced the electoral cargo in Spain during the days and hours prior to the illegal consultation.
The policemen of ‘Tweety’
lack of discretion
The Ministry of the Interior, headed by Juan Ignacio Zoido at the time -after the massive turn of the mobilizations, especially after the siege of the Ministry of Economy on September 20- decided to consciously make a show of force to try to dissuade the independentistas of the consultation and did nothing to hide the enormous ‘Copernicus-Wasp’ police deployment that ended up mobilizing 12,000 police and civil guards. It is true -explain officers of the time- that it would have been impossible to ‘camouflage’ the arrival of such magnitude, but the decision, among others, to house a large part of the troops on ships in the port of Barcelona and in other places well known by the citizenship facilitated the follow-up of the operatives during the operations of the previous days to try to abort the consultation. On the Sunday of the referendum, the movements of the agents were broadcast live on all social networks.
More modest deployment
The dome of the Interior ignored the recommendations of the specialists – and very particularly of the Information services – and forced a “device” very different from the one proposed by the technicians of the security forces. The specialists, aware that of the 12,000 agents only slightly less than 3,000 belonged to “mass containment” units and that with this contingent it was impossible to even try to “show up” in the more than 2,300 schools in Catalonia, they proposed a much more extensive deployment. modest.
The commanders of the Police Intervention Units (UIP, riots) of the Prevention and Response Units (UPR) of the CNP and the Reserve and Security Groups (GRS) of the Civil Guard warned several days in advance that it was materially impossible to try to dislodge around the 500 centers that were considered at first. Although the resistance was exclusively peaceful -they warned- with this plan some groups of 50 operatives had to evict up to 20 different schools.
Each group came out with the impossible orders to vacate 20 schools. The most efficient operatives did not exceed 5 and totally exhausted
In the end, no contingent managed to reach more than 5 or 6 schools and the final number of centers closed by officials of the State security forces ended up being only 92. Even so, the officials left the boats, hotels and barracks with the order to try to reach half a thousand centers.
Much easier to prevent entry
“Occupy, don’t evict”
No one in the leadership of the Interior valued following the recommendation of the police technicians: “Occupy, not evict.” The specialists in mass containment proposed to take control from the beginning (early morning) of between 30 and 40 “key” electoral centers, both in the city of Barcelona, where the large national and international media were concentrated, and in other large centers of the four provinces. No closing expeditions. Centers chosen for their “media relevance” but also for the lack of public.
If the congregants did not leave the school, close it, seal it and establish a security cordon to prevent the entrance of the public and, above all, of the polls. The defenders of this option argued that this gave the image of firmness against 1-O ordered from Moncloa and avoided the inevitable images of struggles to vacate schools previously occupied by hundreds of people.
The Catalan police never had eviction orders
Diego Pérez de los Cobos, the head of the Ministry of the Interior against 1-O, in the trial of his ‘intimate enemy’, Major Josep Lluís Traper, recognized that the experts from the State security forces were “wrong » by betting that on the day of the referendum the Mossos d’Esquadra would act, at least halfway, to prevent the illegal referendum. Basically, Pérez de los Cobos argued that the Government and the Interior were deceived by the Generalitat and the Mossos.
However, the truth is that the information services of the security forces, and even the CNI, warned ad nauseam that the schools were going to be occupied by a crowd if the deployment of the Security Forces did not end before the four in the morning from 1-0. Moreover, it made no sense to wait for the Mossos to start acting at six in the morning because they had already warned that they were not going to vacate any center. The orders of the regional police major himself on September 29 in a five-page document already made it abundantly clear that regional officials were prohibited from “using force.” Even so, it was expected to confirm reliably that the Mossos had set up a device to guarantee voting security, not to prevent it.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.