One trial, two ideas of the state

Cuixart made clear the underlying discussion behind the accusations against them

The more the trial over 1-O progresses, the clearer becomes what was already known beforehand: this trial goes well beyond being a mere criminal case, and is actually a playing field on which two radically opposed ideas of the rule of law are facing off: one restrictive (or authoritarian), and another that calls for maximum democratic breadth. The confrontation is uneven, because one of the two visions, the restrictive one, has the powers of the Spanish state behind it and in its favor. This explains (but does not justify) that the head of state, King Felipe, was allowed to intervene just as the trial began to emphasize that the law must prevail over —and is above— democracy, an idea whose supporters consider clear and distinct but that is enormously debatable: very much so, as it is precisely the underlying foundation in authoritarian systems.

Let's talk, then, of a trial that is a matter of state. From this point of view, the defense and prosecution do not play only the role that would correspond to them in a normal criminal trial, which is to try to prove the guilt or innocence of certain people in regards to specific facts, but to prove the pre-eminence of one vision of the State (and, therefore, of society) over another. Perhaps that is why the key witness of the Prosecutor's Office so far has not been a politician, but rather a civil servant who corresponds to the profile they needed: Diego Pérez de los Cobos (1). On the opposite side, because the idea represented by the defendants and their defense teams is an aspiration, the most powerful defender, Jordi Cuixart, is not a politician, but rather, as corresponds to an idea of this nature, an activist. More rights, more democracy, and both of higher quality, not only for Catalonia but also for the whole of Spain, Cuixart repeated several times. His testimony did not cause any harm to that of other defendants or political prisoners, who also voiced their views with merit, but highlighted the underlying discussion behind the accusations that loom over them.

Pérez de los Cobos, on the other hand, did indeed expose those who had been his political leaders. The attempt by the former members of the Spanish government — Rajoy, Soraya and Zoido— to avoid all responsibility paled in the face of the ferocity and confidence of a public servant born of the tradition of the Spanish far right. Cobos, who was acquitted of torture charges and —allegedly— volunteered for the coup d'état of February 23, 1981, had a perfectly clear target: not so much the defendants, who do not deserve any consideration simply because they support independence, but Major Josep Lluís Trapero of the Mossos —the Catalan police—, because Cobos cannot conceive a greater anomaly, something more anti-natural, than a policeman who does not share the authoritarian idea of the State that he represents. Men like Cobos are what Spain needs. At least, this Spain.


(1) Colonel of the Guardia Civil Diego Pérez de los Cobos was appointed coordinator of all police forces present in Catalonia just before the independence referendum on October 1, 2017.

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