Josep Maria Estela He is the fifth head of the Mossos d’Esquadra since the 1-O referendum. Among his first decisions after assuming command, the commissioner dismissed the head of the Criminal Investigation Commission, Mayor Toni Rodríguez, who led the investigations against the current president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, one step away from the prosecution, and also on the Former Interior Minister, Miquel Buch, who will sit on the bench for appointing a position of trust to act as an escort for Carles Puigdemont.
The mayor Rodríguez also championed the fight against marijuana trafficking for years, but being a strong man for Josep Lluís Trapero cost him his dismissal. And this will not be the only change that Estela will undertake in the leadership of the Mossos after the removal of the major.
Under the suspicion of a more political than operational intention after his appointment, the commissioner will have to take on several challenges:
Assignments to the CUP
The The tiredness of the Mossos for the use of the Corps as a bargaining chip reached its peak during the negotiations to form a Government. ERC’s assignments to the CUP began with the announcement of a moratorium on the use of foam bullets – dispersal tools for riot control after the Parliament banned rubber balls in 2014 -. Although it did not finally come into force, it was a bad start for the Republicans, for the first time at the head of the Department of the Interior, who also agreed with the anti-system the withdrawal of the Generalitat as an accusation in those legal cases against protesters accused of attacking agents. The silence of the former leadership of the Catalan police further burned the spirits among the uniformed men, as they were thus also abandoned by their commanders. Therefore, this is one of the main complaints they make to their new boss.
And it is that under the pretext of the Department of the Interior to turn the Mossos into a “more social and close” police – one of the challenges that its new boss has assumed – another of the cessions of the Executive of Pere Aragonès to the antisystem materialized , with the creation of a commission on the police model in the Catalan Chamber, chaired by Dolors Sabater (CUP). The unrest among the ranks of the Mossos reached its culmination when considering that the formation that has been demanding the dissolution of the riot police for years is not the most appropriate to take on this task. Another of his claims, as announced by the deputy Eulàlia Reguant, is to create an office that supervises the agents, and can even punish them, outside of justice.
“This commission will define the new police model and this is where we will have to see the role of the new chief,” says Imma Viudes, from the Sap-fepol officers’ union.
Another of the grievances against which the uniformed men have been raised is the withdrawal of the Generalitat from those causes with agents attacked by pro-independence protesters, also after the claim of the CUP. “We make it a priority that there are no more lowering of pants towards the political leadership. It cannot be that no one from the headquarters raises his voice, for example, when the Generalitat does not appear as a private accusation against the Tarragona vigilante who shot a mosso a few weeks ago. It is scandalous. On the other hand, he does it in the case of Marcel Vivet –convicted of hitting an agent–, to act as a defense lawyer and lower the request for conviction, ”censures Mosso Albert Palacio, of the USPAC union, which concludes that the head of the Corps, in these cases, has to “defend the agents, raise their voice, and confront the political leadership.”
On the horizon of changes in the Body, Interior wants to achieve parity in the ranks of the Mossos, with the goal set in 2030. Currently, only 21 percent of the total of 17,000 members of the Catalan police are women, a percentage that collapses in the upper echelons. For this reason, another of Estela’s challenges will be, in her own words, “to incorporate female talent into the leadership.” In order to advance towards this objective, the Generalitat modified the 1994 Mossos d’Esquadra law a year ago so that, in the event of a tie, both in the entrance exams and in those for promotion of category, women have preference. .
Other claims of the agents towards the new leadership are short-term. With the increase in infections by Covid, the uniformed officers are concerned about the instructions to ensure compliance with the new restrictions As in the toughest days of the pandemic, the Mossos are in charge of patrolling the streets with the imposition of the curfew, and fear the organization of new bottles. Massive meetings to consume alcohol in the middle of the street that, on many occasions, resulted in attacks on the uniformed men, in the absence of support from those responsible. They blamed, among others, years of institutional silence on the attacks on agents their «loss of authority». Now they hope that their new command will stand up for them.
Interior offers a new position to Trapero
After the dismissal of Josep Lluís Trapero at the head of the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Minister of the Interior, Joan Ignasi Elena, stated that the major would have a new position in the ranks of the Catalan police, and that this one would be revealed after Christmas. He reiterated the same thing yesterday in an interview with the ACN in which, despite denying that the notoriety of the command had anything to do with the replacement, he indicated that it was due to the search for a “flatter and more choral” leadership. In a similar way, the new Catalan police chief, Josep Maria Estela, expressed himself last week, when he indicated that his intention was to “banish the first person” to speak of the Mossos, thus launching a veiled criticism of Trapero’s personalist leadership.