All major unions for the Spanish police forces have bitten back at the extreme-right party Vox over their criticism of the riot police.
This outburst seemed unthinkable given that until now ranking members of the Policía Nacional have aligned themselves with both the PP centre right and especially Vox over the Prime Minister’s coming amnesty law that will pardon Catalan politicians who made moves for a unilateral declaration of independence several years back.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was when the second-in-command of Vox turned up at a demonstration, which have turned violent, in front of the socialist HQ in Madrid (Ferraz).
In fact, radical, right-wing supporters have been protesting outside PSOE offices across the country, right down to a municipal level.
Javier Ortega-Smith (Vox) and Vice-PM of the Junta de Castilla y Léon, Juan García Gallardo, were present and the former reprimanded the riot police, saying that he would be recording them to make sure that they didn’t overstep the mark (as they had had to charge violent protesters) and that he would be taking them to court if they did.
This ‘threat’ did not sit well with the Unidades de Intervención de la Policía (UIP or riot police), whose policing action was not only put into question by Vox but also at least one conservative (PP) MP.
The largest police union for the Policía Nacional, Jupol, which has been expressing their disaccord with the amnesty decision, lost no time, however, to criticise Vox saying that Ortega-Smith’s words were “out of place,” describing Vox’s reaction to Pedro Sanchez being sworn in as Prime Minister as a “huida hacia adelante;” literally “fleeing by advancing.” *
The Spokesperson for the union says that Vox should instead be calling for calming things down,
A communiqué from the Unión Federal de Policía stated, “Neither Mr. Ortega Smith nor any MP has the authority to threaten, coerce or attempt to direct any police work,” defining Ortega’s tone as “threatening.”
As if this rebuke were not enough, another police union (SUP) said about the Vice-Chairman’s words, “Its threat of judicial action points toward a support for violent, urban agitators and terrorists.”
Yet another police union, the Confederación Española de Policía (CEP) also had words of criticism for the chief opposition party, the conservative PP, whose MP, Rafael Hernando, had posted a comment on Twitter (since given a ridiculous name) describing riot-police actions as “not appropriate in a democracy.” The CEP said that his words were “irresponsible, unbacked by proof and without respect for the presumption of innocence.”
* It’s a Spanish expression that means blindly rushing ahead without thinking it through, leading to disaster.
Editorial comment: for those of you that don’t follow Spanish politics, the coming months and years until the next elections could well be turbulent times, given the rise of the extreme right-wing in Spain. The supposedly moderate right has formed political alliances that have given positions of power to Vox MPs in regional government.
It should be noted that some ranking officers in the Policía Nacional, especially in Madrid, allegedly miss the Franco regime. Franco’s top police torturer (who incidentally received an amnesty to protect him against prosecution when the country returned to democracy) was invited to the police HQ as an honoured guest as recently as a couple of years ago.
And therein lies the hypocrisy of Vox and the PP, because the general amnesty back in the late 70s to protect those that had operated under the dictator’s regime with impunity was precisely that, an amnesty, yet that they are now complaining bitterly against the Catalan amnesty law.
It is also immensely hypocritical that when the Catalans carried out their illegal referendum, the police where criticised internationally because of their brutality against voters at the ballot boxes and Vox and the PP cheered the police on, but now that the police are acting against their violent demonstrations in front of socialist-party offices, they consider that the police are overstepping the mark.