Josep Lluís Trapero is probably, and with the permission of the retired commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, the best known police command in Spain. It was the face and the voice that provided calm during the turbulent days in which the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils took place, in August 2017. Despite himself being an icon of independence, he was in the eye of the hurricane by the referendum of 1 October, which led to a trial that was successful. The acquittal allowed him to return with full honors to the leadership of the Mossos, which he had left after the application of article 155 of the Constitution. But his second stage at the head of the police has been short-lived and this time it has not been the PP Government that has expelled him, but one led by Esquerra Republicana.
T-shirts were even printed on Trapero’s face for the phrase he released to a journalist who, at a press conference on the jihadist attacks of 17-A, complained that he was answering questions in Catalan. The major He replied that he answered in Catalan or Spanish depending on the language in which the questions were asked. The journalist left the room. “Well then molt, well, bye byeTrapero replied in a strange mixture of tongues. In the wake of the hardest of the process, the independence movement wanted to see one of their own in the head of the Mossos. The moderation of the autonomous police in the referendum – unlike the colleagues of the Police and Civil Guard, who used force against the voters – ended up being worth the admiration of the pro-independence world. But it also dragged him hopelessly into his first fall.
Trapero’s second fall, attacked by the same Generalitat that had raised him again a year before, had been cooking by Esquerra Republicana for months. At the head of the Generalitat and the Department of the Interior, the ERC leaders have not forgiven the excessive independence with which Trapero, always a free verse, has handled the affairs of the police in this second and brief stage.
The charismatic Trapero is replaced by a much more discreet and little-known entry man. The appointment of Josep Maria Estela as the new head of the Mossos has been received with more applause than boos in Tarragona, the province that he has commanded the last two years. Close to the agents and their needs – this Monday, in his presentation, he asked for more resources for them – Estela, 51, is a “dialogue” police command, focused on operational and discreet aspects, according to sources in his environment. Some people point out that it is related to the independence movement, but it has little political significance.
Estela had her moment of fame last week, when she explained the details about the police operation to arrest Marin Eugen Sabau, the security guard who injured four people in a shooting in Tarragona and fled. He is, moreover, a perfect stranger, even within the body, which clashes with the popularity of his predecessor.
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The Minister of the Interior, Joan Ignasi Elena, highlighted the new head of the Mossos that he is a man “rooted in the territory”: in his 27-year career, he has worked in six of the nine “police regions” in which the Mossos divide Catalonia. Without wanting to expressly oppose Trapero, he praised his ability to “work as a team.” Estela, who also had good words for him major dismissed (“we have had him as a reference for his leadership, his professionalism, his involvement”), he picked up the glove and marked his own profile: “In this new stage we want to banish the first person singular.”
Trapero has always been a free verse. Head of the Mossos from 2013 until he was dismissed after 1-O, he is a tremendously corporate man, with a complicated character (his bad personal relationships with commanders of other bodies were a drag for him and the Mossos) and difficult to handle. It will be necessary to see what happens with Estela, although everything indicates that her leadership will have a lower profile and will be more shared.
With extensive academic training – a law degree, a master’s degree in public security policies – Estela’s profile fits more closely with the “proximity police” model that ERC intends to strengthen. The commissioner was part of a Council of Europe’s torture prevention project on guarantees for detained persons, a curriculum that the CUP (which pressures the Government to supervise the Mossos) can appreciate.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.