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Can you tell us your name and when and where you were born?
My name is Rodrigo Palacios Martín. I was born in Tortosa,
Tarragona, in August 1982.
Can you tell us about your job?
Well, as of now I’ve worked for 12 years as a police officer in the city of Barcelona.
I obtained a degree in advertising and marketing
and I studied in order to
be able to be able to aspire, later in my career as a policeman, to aspire to something more, having studied.
But right now, I’ve been a police officer for 12 years, I’m very happy
despite the current situation, as it is, is very difficult.
Could you tell us about the Guardia Urbana and its history?
Well, the Guardia Urbana is a police force in the city of Barcelona. It’s the first…
the first local police force in Spain
and it began, I think, in 1846, 45 or 46.
It’s a force that, mainly, was developed in order to
serve what was the city of Barcelona, the citizenry.
And all through this career, it has shaped itself as an assistance police corps,
both in traffic matters and cooperating with society.
What I mean is, as a police force, the Guardia Urbana would be a bit like the New York City police
and Mossos d’Esquadra would be the clsoest to a federal police, the FBI.
We pursue crimes just like the Mossos,
-Mossos d’Esquadra, Policía Nacional y Guardia Civil-
but we pursue these crimes either under report
or by the officer’s own initiative.
In this case, the calls that get through the emergency service, the 112,
we get some kinds of these calls transferred and others are transferred to the Mossos d’Esquadra.
But on an operational level, as was proven in the Ramblas attack, Guardia Urbana has the same
competences than Mossos or any other police force in Spain.
Could you tell us what the Mossos are?
Well, the mossos is an autonomic police force
Basically, the creation of the Mossos is over two centuries old.
And well, from what it was to what it is now, its competences have changed a lot.
Mossos d’Esquadra has full competence in the city of Barcelona
and all the Catalan territory, full competences which were acquired in 2005.
In November, 2005.
What’s the thing? Nowadays, Mossos is in charge of, basically, public safety,
it also has competences on issues of terrorism
and traffic. It is, all in all, a very complete police force
regarding police functions.
Unlike the Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil, the competences apply only in Catalonia.
Could you explain what’s the Guardia Civil?
The Guardia Civil is a military force that was created to
protect the rural areas throughout Spain.
In places that were, obviously, unattended because there was no police force as such.
And they gave assistance to those towns and cities where there was no established police force.
Nowadays, the Guardia Civil is a military force, which is the main difference with the Policia Local, which is a civilian force,
and as such they have a completely different rule system from a civilian force such as Guardia Urbana, Policia Nacional or Mossos d’Esquadra
which makes them be more, well, like I said, military.
It’s much more adhered to rules, with a stricter hierarchy than in other police forces -despite it being the same-
but it is much stricter.
And the Guardia Civil, regarding Catalonia, they have no competences in public safety, that is, they don’t patrol the streets,
but they do have competences in investigation,
great networks of drug-dealers, mafias, the control of airports
and customs, among others.
XIX-XX century laws to control low classes such as the ‘Ley de Fugas’, comment.
All I know about the ‘Ley de Fugas’ is because of my grandmother. My grandmother
would just now be almost 100, she’d be 98.
My grandmother entered the Modelo prison in the 25 because her father was in the military.
That was before the Republic, it was before a series of events that would later change everything.
My greatgrandfather was in the military. He was a teacher in the different jails he went through,
to teach to read and write the prisoners because there really was a lot of illiteracy.
Then, since they had no chance to be able to read and study, they were given some minimal instruction and those who wanted could learn.
What’s the thing? My grandmother arrives to the Modelo on the 25.
The Modelo prison in Barcelona.
Back then, I remember about great conversations with my grandmother, endless conversations with her, where she would explain me what the ‘Ley de Fugas’ was.
By the way, each of the six siblings had been born in a different prison in different parts of Spain, so she had seen
how it all worked.
I remember that my grandmother would explain to me the ‘Ley de Fugas’ in Barcelona.
They, the military, lived in the Modelo prison itself, in a module by the Urgell street.
From there, well, the families could see all that happened both inside and outside the prison.
Back then there were no prison officers, they were controlled by the military.
And I remember that she would tell me that the ‘Ley the Fugas’ back then was that people
who either were in the way, politically or some interest of the bourgeoisie, or some sort of influential interest,
were given freedom to leave the prison. What happens? The ‘Ley de Fugas’,
the way she explained it, was leave the prisoner outside the gate
and, once he decided to leave, from the watchtowers in different places in the prison
was shot to death.
I remember a story that was very anecdotic for me, it marked me.
My grandmother would explain that she remembered a prisoner,
very young, who had found his wife cheating on him with another man.
Apparently, that man had some power in society. I don’t remember well the year, it was 20 something 1928 or 1929.
And I remember that my grandmother would say, he was a man, a boy, a man around 30, she’d say, very handsome and very polite, she’d say, and what happens is that
when he discovers his wife cheating on him, well, he murders both. Well.
Then what they did was apply the ‘Ley de Fugas’. He was left on the street Urgell, on the main door of the Modelo,
and the man spent to days sitting by the door, in the cold,
but, of course, when hunger and thirst got to him, he had to [run, get away]…
I remember my grandmother telling me, from the Modelo watchtowers
they would shout at him, ‘Go away, go away, youre free, go away, you’re free’
And on the very moment when the man, after two days, started to run…
He was executed just there. My grandmother, even, it’s not something funny and she wouldn’t explain it as something funny,
but she did tell me about the many times that she had to clean with her mother and everyone else living in the Modelo the remains of blood and spit that came out of the garrote vil.
Because, unfortunately, way before the second Republic many people were executed by garrote vil. Then, that toughness,
we are unable to understand it nowadays, it’s like
talking about the electric chair in the United States.
Of course, it is easy to talk about an execution when it is gratuitous, in this case it doesn’t affect us,
but quite more difficult when then there’s people,
and I’m saying people, not police officers, military or politicians, but people
who have no choice but to witness this sort of scene, which isn’t easy for everyone.
Could you explain what the garrote vil was?
The garrote vil was an execution method that was carried out in a chair, similar to the electric chair,
in which they would put a ring on the neck
and with a twist of a sort of mechanism
it broke the neck.
But, there was also that in this execution there was a sort of base that was just behind the spinal cord, in the neck area, the cervical vertebra, that what it did was
help completely destroy your neck.
So, it wasn’t only an agonic death, but also a death that
was very violent.
It’s not like the electric chair, which is by electrocution. It’s not quick,
but it’s not as slow either.
How did the terrorist attack in August 2017 affect you?
I was at home, I wasn’t working.
My wife told me, she was watching the news
and told me that apparently there had been a trampling on Les Rambles, a massive trampling.
I had many colleagues who were working there, and on top of that my unit colleagues were working there.
And quickly, all the information I had was what I gathered from TV and Whatsapp.
Well, those were very difficult moments because we didn’t fully know what had happened, if it had been a madman
who lost it and was commiting, well, an
attack, but normally they call it attack when it is a terrorist attack, but not when it is
someone with mental instability.
And as events kept happening I received Whatsapp messages from colleagues,
people from other collectives, it was a really tough time. Very tough because
I’ve worked in Ramblas. During this 12 years of service, it’s a duty I’ve covered almost daily,
and the first thing I thought about is that it was an atrocity.
That the number of dead -well, murdered rather, not dead- would be much higher than it finally was.
And the only thing I could think about was, above all, the children.
Because it’s an area in the center of Barcelona that is full of children.
And well, it took me a while to fall asleep that night, because all I could think of was
what could happen later, because we know that usually, when there’s an attack, be it in Paris,
in London or in Belgium, it is always followed by another attack.
And well, it was so, when I got the news that it had happened in Cambrils.
Logically you’re more ready and a bit more alert.
Regarding that, the security measures that they, I truly
believe that even people who weren’t working
were much more precise when going out in other cities and towns.
So, those who were cops was much more cautious with that, or maybe a bit more vigilant as it happened to me in the town where I lived, I was keeping an eye on everything.
Because since you don’t know who it can be nor when, since an attack lately has meant another attack,
there needed to be more care.
Why have we been seeing so many helicopters since the 20thof September?
Helicopters since the 20thof September? Well, every time there is… We need to think about the situation we find ourselves in right now,
there are many demonstrations.
Many demonstrations means many roads closed, many streets and many people.
Then, of course, this people need to be controlled somehow, and
it’s not only what you can see on a street level, but rather the ability to fly over an area,
knowing where small incidents take place because,
on a global level, when a demonstration takes place in which violence can take place,
these small groups go out to different streets, not the main roads, where they can even generate more chaos.
What’s the thing? You can control that from the air.
From the street you can control the demonstration, the cars, the passersby,
but not the mass as a whole.
Then, since it’s not only one demonstration that’s taking place but several, you need to control carefully both where it is happening and the ones who protest.
Who has been imprisoned in these demonstrations?
Well, right know I don’t know because I have no information, I’m off duty these day.
But in the demonstrations, if there have beed detentions, they will limit themselves to what the penal code implies, that is, great riots or some kind of violence.
For political reasons, nobody is being restrained as I see it so far. Well, that I know of.
What measures has the central government taken to prevent vote in the referendum?
Well, so far, from what we can see on TV,
they try that voting doesn’t take place in electoral colleges as well as
regarding the assignment of ballots. Even trying to control, in some way or another,
the police forces that need to be in charge of keeping the voting from happening.
So far it’s this, we’ll see. The fact that more or less police officers come…
Yes, it is important, but it doesn’t mean that anything has o happen. There has also bean great mobilizations of police forces in other big events and there was no need to use them.
It’s only an extra caution.
Why do you think people has been protesting, especially after the 20th of September?
I, as a citizen, consider that people
nowadays have, on a world level, not only here in Catalonia,
social networks allow you to express your feelings, express your achievements, your failures, and, above all, they allow you to
project your aspirations or your, so to say, claims.
The problem is that sometimes it needs to be considered how these claims are made, because when it comes to claims, everyone can claim many things, but
it’s always said that one’s freedom ends where the other’s begins.
So, right now what people need is to express these feeling of
wanting to vote.
It is laudable, it is perfectly understandable.
Only that part of society won’t see it the same way
and others will see it that way.
Why? Just because
Spain has always, from before the civil war,
has been a bit divided. It has always been divided between left and right, maybe it’s like the democrats and republicans in the United States.
They are fated to understand each other but it seems that they never fully understand each other.
I think this can be solved with dialogue.
With dialogue from all sides.
The thing is that now it has taken some unawares and the others even more unawares.
That’s from hurrying. For me, the way I see it, it comes from hurrying.
I think everything can be solved. Everything can be sorted out
as long as the government is willing to negotiate and the Generalitat government is willing to negotiate.
It is simply that.
How is the referendum of the 1st of October affecting you?
On a personal level, right? On a personal level…
Well, on a personal level you do feel more tension between friends, between childhood friends you can feel tension, of course, each one…
My mother had a saying, and it is true.
Always… With friends you should never talk about politics nor religion.
Because that ends up friendship, and it is true.
I, for example, have a completely different ideology and my brother is completely opposed to my ideology.
We’ve had many arguments, very strong arguments. As siblings.
But because we can’t understand the position of the other one until we’ve reached a moment when, for the last 2-3 years
we just don’t talk about politics. Why?
Because I have a way to see things and he has another
and if two siblings will already argue about things that have nothing to do with politics, imagine when one tries to instill his ideology on the other one.
I, personally, no longer get angry at my brother about politics because we don’t talk about it.
But it is true that with friends, childhood friends at that,
you can feel it, you can feel the
tension and I’m the first one who is guilty about it because, logically, I bring it up on my social network or in
my daily life with Whatsapp messages or talking face to face
which I know there’s people that might no like it because they don’t share that ideology, and they do the same with me.
And I think that I’m back to the same as before, it’s an issue of being able to reach an agreement among all of us. Not imposing one’s ideology on the other
Everything is respectable. Everything is respectable even if we don’t understand it, but it is respectable.
Another issue is that we don’t share it. And it pains me. It truly pains, because on top of that for the last few months,
people only talk about politics.
And I’m up to my ears. It’s enough to say that I haven’t turned the tv on for ten days.
I haven’t watched TV for ten days and
yet you keep being informed – Facebook, Whatsapp, thousands of social networks inform you, even Instagram and Twitter.
But I’m up to my ears. I’ve reached a point where I want my children, I want to be with my wife, I want to be with friends, but not talk about politics.
Because there’s even that my wife also has a different ideology, but even if we don’t share it,
we try not to argue over it.
What’s the role of the Guardia Urbana in all that’s happening in Catalonia?
Well, the Guardia Urbana will just adhere to what the judge and, especially, the ‘Fiscalía General del Estado’ rule.
Nothing more. We, as police officers, can’t give our voice, we can’t have a…
We can have a personal political opinion, but we can never make a public mention of our private ideology
towards such a big collective with so many people.
Nowadays, in the police force in Spain, there’s Muslims, there’s Catholics, there’s agnostics, there’s atheists, we have all sort of
beliefs, religious as well as political. Then,
we can’t do that to the citizen either. The citizen,
even if I have an ideology, can’t be affected by my ideology.
Then, we can only do what the judicial authority rules, which is, mainly, the one that rules over us.
Many people falsely believe that we are only subject to what the citizen say.
We are, of course we need to attend the requests of the citizen, we are bound to honor our duty towards the citizen,
but always inside a legal framework.
If legality is stablished by Catalonia we will do that, if it is stablished by Spain we will do that, and if is done by the European Union we will do that.
What we can’t do is to break a rule, a law,
to give benefits to others, because we will be the affected ones.
It happened in the 34, when due to a political positioning of the, back then official police force in Catalonia, the Mossos d’Esquadra,
some ended up in prison and others didn’t.
We will adhere to what we are told.
With all these demonstrations that are taking place in Barcelona, pacifism is seen clearly, specially compared to USA. Why does this happen?
Well, in Spain we’ve always had very hard protests before.
There has always been incidents.
Ever since soon before the year 2015, the 15M, the 15thof May movement,
I remember how they were because even I went, I…
on a personal level, I’ve felt affected by those cutbacks and I’ve felt affected by the same that affects any citizen. I mean, I…
my job is police office, but first and fore most I’m a citizen of the world.
And I am affected by cutbacks in health, I’m affected by cutbacks in education. My wife, actually, is a teacher
in a public school. Then, I know what those things imply.
And it pains me, I’m the first one that doesn’t enjoy it when a family is kicked out. Then,
it is of course difficult, because like I said before you need to adhere to the ruling of a judge
above your personal ideology or your personal way to work,
when a judge rules it you need to follow.
What happens? That from two or three years to this part,
2014 or 2015, protests have achieved a greater social support without violence than with violence.
It is true that there have been some incidents in which there has been a certain amount of violence,
but, of course, they aren’t like in the United States because here we’ve started to learn that
this bonding that is created between citizens, like I said before, of different political beliefs even though we all want the same because of the cutbacks,
but there’s leftists, very leftists, republicans, anarchists…
And then there’s people from the center-right, too.
Not only the radical right, there’s also people of center-right that has also been affected by the cutbacks.
The interesting is that there’s a common good, and that common good requires that we don’t exert violence over the others, because
shouting people won’t understand each other. People understands each other talking, not shoulding.
What happens? I think that the tension, from what I see pretty often in the mass media, because I do talk about this with my brother, the politics…
My brother lived in the USA for five years.
Two in Florida, two in Atlanta and
the truth… well, it was more like two and a half more or less in each of them.
And he’s seen the difference. Atlanta, a city with a mostly Afro-American population
and Florida, even more Central and South-American, Spanish spoken.
Of course, he says to me, a person like Trump in the USA right now is generating a lot of tension.
He generates a lot of tension for the same reasons that would here such an extremist politician.
The problem with extremisms, whether they are right or left winged, right now there it can be seen more to the right and here it is sometimes seen as rather from the radical left, the violence
is based in that it is very easy, in a society in a crisis
-in the United States they’re through the same crisis we do, maybe they’re getting out better,
but they’re still in a crisis.
We’re very angry here. We’re angry but we’re learning that shouting we won’t achieve more, quite the opposite.
Sharing with the one who maybe isn’t the most similar to us is the way to make him see a different point of view. In the United States,
maybe there’s also the issue that you’re either on one side or the other.
And this imposition, in areas, where, I suppose, states like Texas,
states like Louisiana, they are not going to… they won’t understand each other.
They won’t understand each other because they are from a completely different social situation, they are completely different races.
Even if, nowadays, you can’t talk about race, but…
With this I mean, there’s people who are logically against immigrants, mostly more in Texas are republican than democrat,
and it’s very difficult to make them understand that they are going to achieve something with dialogue. I have seen, for example, the radical right protests in the USA
and I’m horrified to think that a country, which unlike many other European countries,
managed to abolish slavery, it manage to instill a sense of equality between the citizenry.
The way I see it, human rights should be pioneer in the United States.
I’m very shocked to see that these sort of radical right protests are allowed, especially with Nazis.
That there’s still people on the United States that are followers of Nazism
leaves me utterly baffled. Baffled because it is… it isn’t logical that there are Nazis,
knowing what it brought to the United States, the millions that died,
besides all that it brought to Europe. I mean, if we’re talking about the human rights it’s unsustainable that someone can talk about Nazism.
Of course, as long as there’s still certain kinds of rallies, of protests and they are allowed to do that, there will continue being a lot of violence.
There will still be a lot of violence. One of the things that I like most about the United States,
regarding protests, is that you see people that still seem to have the spirit of the 60s and 70s, with a will to change the world.
Only that now they do it differently. Now, social networks allow you to do things that you couldn’t before.
On a worldwide level there’s a movement called Zeitgeist
which is quite famous for people who are in favor of social change.
I know it through my brother, and the truth is that it opens you up to some expectations and a world completely different to how you see it
when you’re a kid. There’s only one truth, don’t fall out of line…
I think that the citizenry need to rebel, but it needs to rebel through
words, through dialogue. And everything can be achieved.
One of the subjects that I studied in the police academy and that I really liked was mediation.
And you put it into practice with the citizenry, because usually, when you halt someone,
there’s two kind of citizen.
The one who says good morning and greets you and the one that doesn’t.
The one that greets you usually asks you what he has done, and the one who doesn’t the first thing he says is ‘Why are you stopping me?’ ’Why are you stopping me?’
Of course, the difference is that the one who doesn’t greet you, quickly says ‘Why are you stopping me’,
which will most of the come be followed by a list of reproaches without even having had a chance to explain to him what’s going on.
However, someone who pays attention, ‘Hello, good morning agent, tell me, what’s wrong?’ ‘Well, let me explain you, this has happened’.
With that people the dialogue usually ends in a way that I consider is a just way.
That is, making the citizen understand what he has done and sometimes, even not to fill a report. Many times, a report isn’t filed. People consider that we,
as police officers, have to repress this sort of behavior, but a repression…
I don’t think it’s the just thing. The just thing is show that person
what they have done. And many people realize that.
There’s people who doesn’t get that. There’s people who, quickly, ‘It doesn’t matter, you’ve stopped me and will surely report me and I don’t care because you’re going to report me. And since you will report me,
I will give you an earlful.’
And that’s an issue. Because sometimes, showing that person what they have done wrong,
and that person reaching the conclusion on what they could have caused, I can leave in peace.
I don’t need to report that person. The report is a matter of…
The police report, regarding traffic,
is an administrative matter. You can do it or not, whatever you decide. It’s discretionary.
That’s depending on what the agent wants to do.
On a penal matter it is compulsory, of course, the arrest, the imputation via administration.
And this is just the same. This is exactly the same. There’s two ways to do things: shouting and reproaching
or saying, ‘excuse me, did you notice that with what you just did you could have caused…’ In divorces,
in this mediation class I mentioned before they taught us, for example, about divorces.
When someone divorces someone else, quickly, when they’re in front of both lawyers,
they begin demanding things from the other.
‘Because you did…’ ‘Because you said…’ ‘Because you, back then, didn’t do…’
and that’ an issue. The issue is that, the reproach.
Solutions in a couple, just like between friends, the way I see it is that always one of them needs to say,
‘Look, John, or look, Kate, what bothered me was that you did this, this, that.
I expected this, that, this.’
There you’re giving people a solution, a way out, a way to solve things.
And that mediation is what makes people say, ‘Okay, he’s not flinging shit at me’.
The problem is that, when you reproach another, he puts up his shield, puts up his spear,
waits until you throw and then attack. That’s the problem with society.
The problem with society is that we can’t talk, we manage our feelings by pouring shit on others, pouring reproaches, insults and, above all,
demanding. And that’s an issue.
I licensed in marketing and advertising. Before I am a police officer, I’m an advertising creative, because it was what I liked best, even though what I was best at was
marketing, but I wanted to be a created, and I actually did work for a short while as a creative.
And that was exactly the same. Listen to the other person and know what it is exactly they want, what they are looking for.
My creativity teacher,
Mariano Baños, who is an advertiser renowned through the world, because he’s earned several Canne’s
Lions for commercials he’s done,
told me something once that has stayed with me.
He said, ‘Rodrígo, never say to anyone directly what you want them to know. Let them reach the conclusion’
and I said, ‘Mariano, what do you mean by that, truth is I’m not following’ and he would say,
‘If you say to someone, you’re a son of a bitch, that person will close up
and there will be no dialogue.
Say it to that person in a way that they need to reach the conclusion that they’re a son of a bitch.
Prove to him that his acts aren’t the best, but don’t call them a son of a bitch.
Tell them, do you remember that… Do you think you would have liked if it had been you…?’
And you gradually change the position. That’s when people begin to think.
If you insult them, they keep the insult, but if you change them
and make them reach that conclusion, everything changes. It happens to me with my children.
When I was a father for the first time -now I have two-when I was a father for the first time
nobody taught me what it was to be a father. Actually, I couldn’t enjoy my father because he died quite young, when I was 8.
But I did know what I wanted, and what I didn’t want is that my children feared me.
Then, I try to teach my children that the base of education, including their classmates,
is respect. And instead of scolding them, both her and him, instead of scolding them like ‘you’ve done that, now I’ll punish you and so’.
No. It looks hard to think it is true, but this is how we do it.
You seat them before you. Usually this will already mark the child, because he’s facing you, he’s already
face to face and that commands a kind of authority.
And [tell them] without shouting why things have happened and how they should change.
I am lucky that, not because they are my children, they are night and day. My daughter is very polite, very efficient in everything because she also does everything that
you barely have to explain it to her. She’s six, but…
However, my son i much more stubborn for this sort of things, he’s like me when I was young, I was very impulsive.
Only that I’ve been able to change that, and I want for him to change it now.
He’s three, but he’s very impulsive.
And it’s quite difficult to make him understand things. But usually, when I’m done explaining something to my son,
I manage that he’s not angry at us.
That he doesn’t see us as a repressor someone, but rather as someone that looks for that benefit.
It’s difficult, very difficult, especially for people who close up.
So, nowadays we can achieve a society where people
looks as much for their own benefit
as much as others’ and when it is understood that we don’t do what we do to cause harm.
This will change one way or another, but it will be changing that mindset.
Completely changing that mindset.
The ‘Me, me, me’ for the ‘How about we all go together?’
The idiom that the great trip beings with a first step, is true.
When I was a kid, I wanted some things.
Now that I’ve grown up, you notice others.
You keep realizing that those from when you were a kid have nothing to do with the aspirations from when you’re grown up.
But there is one that hasn’t changed, which is something that my mother used to say.
‘When you point with the finger, remember that the other three fingers point at you.’
And it is something, a premise, a motto that I try to apply, especially professionally.
Not to accuse anyone of nothing because before I may have done that.
So, that gives you a… If you consider that, it makes you see
that maybe you’re not so different from the others.
All you have to do is adapt to what the others want, not be inflexible or close-minded.
Sometimes society thinks that police officers are close minded,
but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We are… we work at this just like a nurse, a firefighter, you work because you like it.
The one who works for money, will not get anything.
The 30thof September 2010 there was an important general strike. Do you have any story or can you give us an overview?
Well, in almost all the general protests or strikes I’ve worked.
The truth is that you don’t have much time to think.
Honestly, you don’t have much time to think because you need to cut roads and have to,
above all, protect the vehicles that find themselves momentarily trapped
as well as the citizens that com across the protest.
I’ve lived very tough moments.
I’ve lived very tough moments because not everyone understands that you’re a person.
They see a uniform and suddenly you’re in the spotlight, the center of attention, and you’re the one with who I can,
so to say, with who I can let go.
You receive insults. You receive complaints. You receive reproaches.
And some time I’ve had to scamper on the motorcycle.
With the police motorcycle or the police car, of course, not to be hit.
I’ve found myself in situations that were, sometimes,
funny, because finding someone who isn’t from the same ideology, especially in the protest of the…
the general strike, finding people who are going to work and they’re opening a store and around them they have lots of people reproaching them. That, then,
in that moment you think, I want to die, because you need to restore order and you need to
ensure the security of ones and the others. You reach home
and you’re about to explode. Literally about to explode, because…
You’re also wondering if you’ve done a good job or not, because for some it is well done and for others isn’t.
But well, I’ve seen…
I’ve seen atrocities too in general strikes, regarding
some people who use this constitutional right to demonstration to do things that no…
that aren’t appropriate of someone who is in favor of democracy.
I don’t understand that there needs to be violence in a protest that, in theory, to make a claim it needs to be pacific.
That’s precisely what people want.
I’m all for my children going to protests with my, with my wife or even my brother.
But in order to let them go to demonstrations, even if they’re young they need to understand what democracy is, and democracy is
starting from the base of what everyone wants.
And if there’s violence in a demonstration, my children can’t go.
And that’s what I don’t want, for my children to see violence.
If it takes two or three protests more to make ourselves heard, that’s perfect.
But what mechanisms do we sometimes use to
-I’m talking generally- make claims? Burn containers? That later the rest of us will need to pay?
To paint the front of a building, that later we will clean with the salary of all citizens, taxes?
It’s illogical. It’s illogical. What needs to be done is vote.
And voting in an election is what makes politicians come in and out.
It’s what makes them move.
So, I always say the same: ‘Don’t go against me,
I’m just a… the one who is in the middle of the system.’
I have my ideology, I have my personality.
Of course, now I’m doing my job.
That’s like someone who works putting makeup on the dead, a [???], or a
gravedigger. That person needs to their job, surely
because they like it, but I don’t think that someone who works putting makeup on the dead or burying them,
which is a perfectly normalized job,
surely if you ask them if they like seeing people dead they will say no.
But he likes his work. Why? Because he knows that despite there being something bad, it’s the same with us,
being an evil, you’re helping others.
That’s difficult to see sometimes. People thinks that,
of course, if I smoke a joint the police come and reports me.
If I have the music at 4 am because I’m hosting a birthday at my place, the police come and reports me.
If I need to steal in order to eat, the police come and arrest me.
Yes. Sadly, this society is the law of the ratchet.
A ratchet screwdriver, it only turns towards the side that interests us,
but sometimes not towards the one that doesn’t interest us.
And this needs to move left and right, we need to understand these things too.
I, professionally, in the general strike, I felt identified with the protestors because
well, whether you’re in this party or the other, it didn’t matter who was in power.
I could understand or at least I could empathize with the people who were there, claiming for their rights.
But I can’t prove it, I need to do what I have to.
If they order me to cut a street or to forbid some demonstrators to access a street,
we will have to between all the colleagues.
But it’s not about whether or not I like it when I get out of bed in the morning, I am not allowed to choose, no police officer is allowed to
personally decide what they want or don’t want to do. You adhere to some rules.
And that’s how it is.
You mentioned that your grandfather was the head of the police in Barcelona during the 70s. Could you begin telling us a bit what the Policía Nacional is?
Well, the ‘Cuerpo Nacional de Policía’ is the main force on a general level in Spain.
The ‘Cuerpo Nacional de Policía’ has,
now it must be around 210 years old, it’s
I’d say that it is not exactly like the Guardia Civil, not even close.
But nationwide it is the main force.
What happens? The Cuerpo Nacional de Policía,
like the Guardia Civil, had performed a series of servies here in Catalonia, with
the competences acquired by the Mossos,
stopped carry some of them out. That is, public safety, daily and in a police car patrol duty and
receiving calls from incidents, they don’t do that anymore.
That’s done by Mossos or, in some cases, the local police force such as the Guardia Urbana.
But the Policía Nacional still has the same, immigration,
going after big mafias, big networks. Here in Catalonia.
In Catalonia, the Policía Nacional is seen as an invading police force.
That’s how many people see it, I’m not saying everyone, but very invasive.
And that belongs to another country.
And often, the work that the Policía Nacional does isn’t valued.
Policía Nacional collaborates with Guardia Urbana, collaborates with Mossos d’Esquadra and collaborates with Guardia Civil
to dismantle commandos, dismantle mafias,
for example, in the case of Guardia Urbana in human trafficking regarding prostitution, brothels,
even regarding drugs.
There’s a close collaboration, but it’s not seen.
What happens? Since it is Policía Nacional, with a Spanish flag, not everyone sees it as
something that they want to have here, it’s seen as if it were a police force that has nothing to do with Catalan identity.
You can’t argue about the work that the Policía Nacional has done in Catalonia,
despite there having been events through its history that, of course, weren’t agreeable.
Actually, familiarly I am not proud, not even close, of the situation that my grandfather might have lived in the Policía Nacional. Cuerpo Nacional de Policía, Cuerpo Superior de Policía,
they were different, there were to national police forces.
The Cuerpo Nacional de Policía and the Cuerpo Superior de Policía, if I remember right.
What’s the issue? They both did the same but were separated. I mean, they both belonged to the same national police but
they were separate entities. That’s about what I know.
The problem is that, during the 60s and 70s, which was a time of
great police repression, well, it’s difficult.
I, for one, am against the mistreatment of any human being, whoever they are.
I’m not proud, not even close, of what might have happened in Catalonia or the rest of Spain
because someone exercised their rights,
not even constitutional ones, but their freedom of speech or their right to
follow an ideology.
Especially, that they have to lay a hand on them, because that is…
that’s an inhuman treatment.
But of course, in that situation there’s people who have committed atrocities
and they should never happen again, but you can’t either, on the personal aspect, reproach anything to
any relative, because well, each had their own circumstances,
their situations and it is also true that back then, the hierarchy
was much more marked than it is now.
We are talking that the Policía Nacional, back then, was basically an armed police force too.
Well, the armed police force were the ‘grises’, but
it was a very militarized police force, actually made up by people who had been in the military.
Of course, it was a very tough time. Very tough, especially, for the people who worked,
for the people who suffered and, above all, for the relatives on both sides.
I have seen my mother in a situation, many times,
where she felt deeply ashamed of all that had happened in the years when my grandfather worked.
But it’s tough. I, well, I’m the third generation of police officers in my family.
I have a completely different idea of what the police should be.
Precisely because of that, the police can’t be something that belongs to an ideology, you can’t wear a flag.
You can’t wear a flag, it doesn’t matter if it’s the Catalan flag, the Spanish flag or the Euskadi flag.
You need to be a police officer, and that means that there will be people who won’t think like you and others who will.
But it doesn’t matter, you owe yourself to them.
And respect is earned wearing proudly the uniform, never laying a hand on anyone.
Because that person on who you lay a hand, isn’t suffering alone.
Their relatives will suffer and you will suffer.
Because I don’t want to imagine that my children will someday have to suffer because of another police officer.
I don’t want that. I mean,
I consider myself a very upright person. Very upright.
And I don’t want, ever, that my children find themselves in a situation where there has been a violation of a right as
normal as freedom of speech, of expression, of movement,
or simply their freedom. As long as they haven’t hurt anyone.
With this I mean, I’m a father, but I know that if my children do something wrong I will be the first to tell them,
‘You’re responsible for your own actions’, like I already tell them now.
But laying a hand on them? Those were very hard years for the Policía Nacional.
Well, what is now known as Policía Nacional. Those were very hard years.
Many things were repressed and
nowadays we have a police force that is fully democratic, even if there’s people who don’t see it.
There are of course isolated cases, evidently, just like there are doctors that are corrupt, there’s police officers that are corrupt, and there’s…
Police officers are part of society. Here as well as in the United States.
The citizens need to see a projection of what they are
in the people who represent them to defend their rights.
With this I mean, an Afro-American in the United States
needs to see that the police aren’t racist.
And he needs to see Afro-American police officers.
And needs to be Chinese police officers.
It’s the normal thing. It’s a society that keeps changing, that we need to…
not all of us are Christians nor all are Jews.
This happens nowadays, and it needs to keep happening. People need to realize what there is.
And I want to be a part of that. Both personally and, of course, professionally. I want to be a part of that. I want everything to be like
woman police officers.
My mother entered the police almost, I think, with Franco dead.
And back then, women couldn’t become police officers. They could belong to the police force, but
couldn’t perform tasks with weapons, etc.
Later they could. Now this needs to be encouraged. This parity needs to be encouraged,
we need to see that there are women police officers, that there are transsexual police officers.
There’s people who put their hands on their heads to the thought of there being transsexual police officers.
I happen to know a few.
And what I care about is their work. Their sexuality is something else.
Just like their political ideology, I don’t care.
Later having some beers we will talk about it,
but I want the person who as my back to cover my back
and give me support.
And that the person who is by my side helps the people when I can’t or when we two can altogether.
I don’t care if they’ve been a woman or a man,
and I don’t care if right now you’re a woman. What I want is for this to be transmitted professionally to the others.
And the Policía Nacional, nowadays, here in Catalonia
is in a situation where people doesn’t notice the things they do without being there.
It has changed a lot since the 70s. It has changed a lot, varied a lot, just like the Guardia Civil.
They used to say of the Guardia Civil, ‘no, shooting first, questions later’.
Society has changed a lot with democracy.
And let’s hope that it continues to change. And let’s hope that it continues to change. Before, it wasn’t allowed, for example,
long hair in the police. Now it is allowed.
Tied back, but long hair.
Before, a police officer couldn’t have tattoos. Now, they prefer that they can’t be seen.
Or a police officer before -well until recently, about a decade or so,
well, 15 or 16 years-
a police officer, well, someone who wanted to become an officer couldn’t if they hadn’t done the compulsory military service.
When I was 17 or 18 I didn’t want the same things that I want now with 35.
Maybe someone at 17 or 18 didn’t want to do the military service, for whatever reason.
And later saw that working as a police officer, carrying a weapon
-because we need to carry a weapon, it is a necessary evil.
It’s a evil that, luckily, in Spain we don’t have
the bad fortune to use as in the United States.
Sorry, I mean.
In Spain we’re lucky that we don’t have to use it as unfortunately they do in the United States, having to use weapons regularly.
Than, there’s times when I don’t even remember I carry it.
Like I don’t carry it. But we need to carry it. Then, like everything, it has been changing,
I think that they are giving an unfair treatment what those years were,
comparing them with what’s happening now, 50 years later, has nothing to do.
It’s a completely different situation, and I hope it doesn’t repeat. But not for myself, but for everyone else.
I don’t think there’d be any benefit to it. Then…
It’s tough. It’s tough to come from a family where you don’t agree with the things they did.
With things that maybe they shared or not politically.
Them, and well, you don’t feel proud in that regard. You don’t feel proud.
But well, life goes on and we learn from the mistakes of our parents and forebears, otherwise we’d still be with slavery.
And now I consider that, since I don’t want to repeat what already happened,
the best to do is to do things differently.
You’ve mentioned that your mother had been a Policía Nacional. Can you tell us any story about her service during, for example, the olimpic games?
Well, my mother during the Olympic games
was in the intelligence brigade here in Barcelona.
And well, basically they tried to protect from the issue of ETA’s terrorism here in Barcelona.
And I remember my mother would bring back home loads of newspapers, that back then were called ‘Primera Mà’,
where they would publish flats for rental.
Then, since all flats for rental were there, they contacted somehow
with those who were going to rent the flat to find out who could rent those flats later, for the Olympics.
Because that way they had a thorough control of,
who could be dangerous for the security of the Olympics.
I remember that my mother, besides all that, had participated as a volunteer
in the, well, the events. Besides what she did professionally.
And I remember the especial emphasis the police did back then so that the games
were carried out in a
in a proper way. Not on a Spanish level, but rather that it was perfect for the world.
But of course, I remember from my mother that back then the Policía Nacional
changed the model of the car the had and so,
and there were some old fashioned things. Then,
I remember my mother having to bring ink tapes for the Olivetti typing machines.
Taking it home because there either wasn’t any or another colleague had taken it.
Because of course, back then, in the year 92 there wasn’t even Windows, of course.
So in order to fill reports or other kinds of documents they had to fill,
you’d see my mother with a whole box of pens so that her own coworkers wouldn’t steal them,
like it happens often with lighters, that they disappear.
I remember my mother carrying in her purse one or two ink tapes for the Olivetti machines so that she could type. I found it very funny, because she’d say,
“Jesus Christ, how can it be that there’s not even that?” That’s how it low it got and
especially, well, with the police and everything,
I was able to see some minor events of the Olympics, rhythmic gymnastics and such, because
they gave to some entities -police, firefighters,
nurses- they gave them tickets for events that weren’t maybe as
important or not so mediatic.
And I went two or three times to rhythmic gymnastics, boxing, something, well, it wasn’t boxing, it was, what’s the name, fencing.
Of course, things that weren’t… But well, my brother and I were young, back then I was 10 and my brother 15 and damn, that was like a whole world. It was,
“We are in the Olympics.”
And the most anecdotic part was my mother collecting pins.
My mother was 37 and was crazy about the pins, every day when she got home she had already exchanged pins with…
I’ve no idea with who she exchanged them but a lot of people.
And it was curious, a woman of 37… Well, I’m 35 now too…
But damn, it was odd that it wasn’t only us doing it, but my mother too was into exchanging pins. I remember the Olympics
because of the pins exchange.
I had at home hundreds of pins, it was crazy.
Even restaurants made pins for the Olympics
But well, it’s an anecdote of the Olympics…
We came from Madrid on the 90, when my father died. My father was from Madrid and my mother Catalan, she also passed away recently, a year ago or so.
So, I’m Catalan while my brother is Madrilenian.
Each of us born in a different place.
My father from Madrid, my mother Catalan. When my father died, we moved from Madrid to Barcelona.
What’s the thing? It was a very long time, she was coming back from Madrid 17 years later, approximately. Yes, she hadn’t lived in Barcelona for 17 years.
All of her family was here, my grandparents, my uncles and all.
What happened? It’s curious, because you arrive to a city where you don’t know the language, like Barcelona,
but the Olympics made people integrate much more, it didn’t matter where you came from.
It was the Olympics, like the Universal Exposition in Sevilla.
And that feeling of unity despite being different.
well, for me it was much… it was much more easy for me,
towards other people than maybe even school.
But generally, it didn’t matter if you were from Madrid, from Andalucía, from Extremadura.
You were open to anything.
And of course, my mother hadn’t been much time there, it wasn’t even two years since we came back – well, she came back, we just came.
We hadn’t… that.
And Barcelona seemed to me like a different world.
Of course, I don’t know much about the pre-Olympic Barcelona.
What I know about it is from the 90 to the 91,
but it isn’t significative. But of course, it is a city
different to Madrid, with Madrid as big as it is and with all the monuments it has and all,
to notice the change is like asking someone from Atlanta what was Atlanta before the 96 and after the 96, how it changes, how…
Los Angeles has had several Olympics I think, one or two, but
Atlanta, that huge change that takes place…
In Barcelona happens the same.
And regarding my mother, I saw really happy, I saw her…
This work, the hours that she spent working, she faced them in a way
completely different from how, for example, I do. I mean, the tiredness
she projected on friendship with her coworkers. I mean,
I have seen many of my mother’s coworkers come home after
14, 15 hours of working and come home to eat, have fun, talk about their stuff.
And damn, there are days that I do, my shift can be 12 hours straight or even 13, depends on how it develops.
And when I get home, all I want is sleep.
I don’t want… I want to be with my children, I want to be with my wife and I want to be watching TV, but I don’t want,
I wouldn’t even think to throw a party.
However, my mother was like a diferent…
And especially going out, saying well, let’s go, getting home, we lived here in Barcelona,
and then go to Vil·la Olímpica.
To the Barceloneta Area, all of that to take a stroll.
Because it was a different way to live the Olympics.
Then, I know that in terms of work she gave a lot of herself, as a police officer.
A lot. But Barcelona, with this atmosphere, took her to work happier every day.
I remember that my mother, after my father’s passing had a very tough time,
I saw this moment of going up. I mean, I’m really grateful.
On a personal level, what’s your take on the referendum?
Well, on a personal level. As a police officer I can’t, because…
Personally, I think it’s a very difficult situation.
Very difficult. Because I’m in for a referendum with different conditions that aren’t there now.
With this I mean that I’m in favor of a referendum where things are explained openly, the good and the bad.
No problem. I want the good and the bad, but properly explained.
Then, when one puts the cards on the table, or rather when one explains what’s really going to happen
and what’s wanted, one has the freedom to choose.
But as of now, truth is that it’s not very clear to me what do I stand to gain from all this.
Then, my wife, for example, her parents, my mother in law is Galician
and my father in law is Extremaduran. They are immigrants, they arrived here very young.
Of course, my mother is Catalan and my father from Madrid,
my grandparents, even if they were here since they were 5 or 6 were from Toledo, on my mother’s side, they were immigrants.
It’s a bit unfair to now separate everyone.
Not because of the independence, but because wanting to separate the opinion from everyone else.
But if there needs to be a vote, anything, it needs to be done
in a way that nobody is fooled. With this I mean, that all the cards are on the table and both the good and the bad parts are explained.
I don’t know if I will vote, depends on that day of how I wake up, but
I don’t find it wrong that people goes to vote.
I don’t think it is wrong that people vote. If they want to vote….
It’s as if I want, like I was saying before, we can reach an agreement.
Personally, I think that there will be an agreement and it will not get bloody, I hope and wish that that doesn’t happen.
But if people want to vote, let them. Now,
what happens later with that vote is what worries me the most.
Is what worries me the most. Personally, it’s my biggest worry..
And above all, that the social fracture there already is doesn’t increase.
My opinion is just another one like everyone else’s. I can be better or worse.
As I tell you, I will vote according to how wake up that morning, how much I want to and, of course, what I see happening the former day.
Will it amount to something? I don’t know. I don’t know. But I do think that everyone, whatever they do, need to be happy with what they do
and shouldn’t feel forced to, for better or for worse.
And I can’t tell you much more, because I’m telling you from my personal point of view, as a professional, all I hope is that the colleagues who work that day
do it in the cleanest way, that is, that the interventions
they need to do are carried out in the cleanest and most peaceful way and, especially,
that they don’t allow anyone to be hurt.
I don’t mean physically, but morally.
That that freedom is respected. Both for better and for worse.