• RAFAEL J. ÁLVAREZ
Updated Sunday, June 9 2019 – 03:01
His name is Juan José Torrente, 39 years old, he has been one year off sick and wants to be transferred to the National Police: “I became a policeman, not a political policeman outside the Constitution”
Torrente, Sergeant of the Mossos, at the headquarters of CSIF JAVIER LUENGO
His father, a miraculous survivor of an ETA ambush in which four police officers died, encouraged him to join the Mossos d’Esquadra. Today, 17 years after joining the Catalan Police, this man from Barcelona blazes out the reasons for his departure aloud and defenselessly. Or of his attempt: “I want to leave the Mossos because the president of the Generalitat is calling for an armed confrontation in Catalonia and I do not want to collaborate with that. I wanted to be a policeman, not political policeman outside the Constitution”.
His name is Juan José Torrente, 39, is a Sergeant from the Mossos d’Esquadra, he has been one year off sick and wants to go over to the Policía Nacional. Or to the local Police. Or to any other Police other than the one of the Government.
“If it can be a Police of Catalonia, better, because this is my land and here is my family. But if not, be it outside. In the Mossos no longer. It is a politicized body and I do not conceive the politicization of my job”.
The Mosso who asked for the resignation of Torra for “putting at risk” the physical integrity of the Mossos d’Esquadra.
His name is known in trade union circles because he is the general secretary of the CSIF-Mossos, from where he works for improvement and cries out so that his colleagues can change from one police force to other as the law says. But it is the first time Juan José Torrente exposes his identity to tell that he is one of the “rough 300 and 500” agents who want to leave the Mossos, although the State is preventing it, and do not open their mouth in public for what could happen to them.
He, on the other hand, speaks today. Here.
“I wanted to be a policeman like him”
The story of Juan José Torrente has so much to do with that of his father that even the two are named alike. “I wanted to be a policeman, like him.” And so even if the first memories of the boy Juanjo were those of a father healed from the bullets and obscured by the depression. “For a long time I had an absent father. He was for eight months in the hospital, my mother lived in the hospital with him. And when he returned home he was a man marked by the attack. He was absent … just seeing your father crying like a child … always in treatment …”.
Suspension points are tears. This young man in battle just crumbles and looks for a scarf for his cheeks. Later he will tell us that his father has got surgery on his back again and that, from time to time, his life is discouraged. But for the moment, let the young man Juan José sob, without asking any more for his childhood.
Everything changed on September 14, 1982. The national police officer Juan José Torrente had spent almost a year in the Basque Country and had transferred all the family there from Catalonia. That morning, Torrente and four other companions circulated in a patrol car and in another camouflage towards Rentería by a narrow road when, from a mound, an ETA commando shot them. “They shot more than 100 bullets and killed four. One was injured and was picked up by a truck driver, but the terrorists followed him, stopped him and finished off the cop. My father received seven shots in the chest, arm, back and one leg. He was unconscious and was taken as dead by the Etarras. From that event he has a shorter leg and a disability of 86% “.
Juan José Torrente (son) was two years old that day. He had been born in Esplugas de Llobegrat and had spent a year in the Basque Country for the destiny of his father when ETA redirected his life. The family returned to Catalonia and the boy Juanjo began to live again. The conversations with his father, together with the “commitment to guarantee citizen security” were feeding Juanjo with a passion: being a policeman.
“I could have gone to the Urban Guard”
And it was his father, as Catalan as he, who advised him to be a mosso. “He told me that it was a young police force, with more competencies and the security of living in Catalonia”. In 2002, Torrente joined the Mossos d’Esquadra. “I also could go to the Urban Guard, but I preferred the Mossos”.
Torrente shows nostalgia. Good years in the Mossos. “There was a very good atmosphere, we made public security and public order, always complying with the law. I have great friends, many from the beginning.”
This graduate in Criminology indicates a frontier in time, a before and an after in the history of the Catalan Police: the siege of the Parliament in 2011. “All demonstrations were against Mas and the Generalitat. The Government and the right of CiU were sinking and decided to sponsor the independence movement with public money, that is Òmnium and the ANC“.
– How do the Mosses change?
– They change towards permissiveness. Until then, you went to a rally and acted without excesses, but according to the law. You only used your stick when almost everything had fallen upon you. For example, when the squatters pulled us urine bottles. But from the very start of financing the independence movement, the police permissiveness rises. And when the CUP enters the Government, more of it. It is overlooked that cash machines be broken, actions are allowed against material properties, protesters are allowed to go ahead… And the orders are delayed. I have seen wounded companions asking for permission to act and that order never came. Rubber balls were removed, but the numbers of police force were not augmented. In summary, the margin of tolerance was expanded.
Actions with a political purpose
Torrente was witnessing more and more that, even without direct orders, the actions of the Mossos began to have a political purpose. And in that intimate run run [hum] happened the last night of the summer and all that fall of 2017, the recent history of Catalonia marked in figures and letters: 20-S, 1-O.
“On September 20 the independence movement prevented the Guardia Civil from doing their job; they had an order of the court to guarantee the passage of the judicial committee. And the police intervention of the Mossos was delayed over the time. It seemed that Jordi Sànchez was more in command than the Police itself, there was a collusion between the ANC and Òmniun with the Generalitat”.
– How was the referendum lived from inside the Mosssos?
– The 1-O was a shame. We felt impotence Not all the police force was activated. The schools were not closed beforehand, even knowing that an illegal referendum would be held. We were prohibited from acting, unless they attacked us directly.
Were they asking us not to do our job? There was a court order and it was breached. Two colleagues who were in a school asked for support and did not receive an answer through the radio station. The commanders knew what was going to happen and they went on. That day, members who had defined themselves as constitutionalists were given vacations, or sent to watch dungeons for 12 hours or their shifts changed. Like myself, they sent me to work at night. Those changes were a premeditated action. The 1-O was going to count on permissiveness and the constitutionalists who were not going to accept it were thrown out. The 1-O we stopped being police officers to become the broken dolls of the politicians.
Catalonia continued to make notches in History: independence, artícle 155, the escape of Puigdemont, the 21-D ballot boxes, the imprisonment of politicians. And a 2018 and 2019 of yellow bows, two presidents and the rial of the procés. “I took a psychological time off sick. Politicians called people to the street knowing they were going to escape to Waterloo. They played with people and created frustrations on both sides. They fractured society. And so we continue”.
Torrente has arrived to Barcelona from a town of Tarragona where the sea is near. There, this late law student immerses himself in diving less often than he would like, more accustomed for years to the apnea of the union struggle. From the headquarters of CSIF-Mossos, Torrente struggles with the State to approve the Regulation of the Law of Police, a norm of 2015 allowing the policemen to change their membership of a police force. It is the so-called walkway, the jump from one police force to another. And that includes the Mossos d'Esquadra. But nothing moves.
Accusations of “facha”
His meetings with other police groups have cost Torrente an investigation of Internal Affairs, and for his appointments with political parties he has been accused of being a “facha” in the social networks. “What they do not say is that just as I have met with PP and Vox, I have met with C’s, PSC, PSOE or ERC”.
The CSIF-Mossos calculates in almost half a thousand the policemen who want to leave the Catalan Police and has brought the matter to the Ombudsman.
In February, the Ombudsman admitted a complaint of CSIF and transferred to the Government the “situation of helplessness for the politicization of the functions” of the Mossos, according to the union. “The Defender has told us that the Government does not answer and has sent the complaint again”. And last May, CSIF has raised an appeal to the Ministry of the Interior to activate the Regulation of the Law.
This delay sounds to Torrente. “I already requested the transfer last year based on the Victims of Terrorism Act, which includes administrative mobility. In writing, the Government replied that there is a commission that is studying it. By telephone, they told me that in this political situation nothing will be done. “
Politics. Infectious word for Torrente. “We have an escaped president and another that embraces Otegi and defends the Slovenian way. It’s unheard of. Instead of choosing coexistence, Torra is calling for an armed confrontation, and I will not collaborate on that. And he uses the Mossos: It is a politicized force with four bosses in two years. It seems that the one just named has a past linked to the independence movement. The Generalitat is preparing the fall, after the sentence of the proces. The more allied the Mossos are, the better”.
Torrente speaks fast. “They use us politically, I’ve become a policeman, not a political policeman outside of the Constitution. I want to be a policeman and with such a political interference, it is difficult to be a policeman in the Mossos. I do not want to work for the Generalitat, I do not conceive the politicization of my job”.
All Torrente quotes are fed for declarative journalism. But we want to go further.
– You are presenting conclusions, but what proof do you have of that politicization?
– There are fellows with proceedings opened for saying that they are with the Constitution. The ordinances say that you have to punish whoever gets foul, not the one who cleans, and the Mossos have persecuted more to those who remove bows than to those who puts them. There have been high officers who have asked us not to remove objects linked to the 1-O. And they even have opened a file against the colleague who said that the Republic doesn’t exist, but not against the forest guard who yelled at him.
Torrente endured the entrance in that house where a father who abused his two daughters threatened them with a knife.
And the arterial cut a man made before him.
And the dead he saw.
And the pains of the victims of the attack on La Rambla … Another attack.
But what the blood could not, politics has achieved.
– Do you fear retaliation?
– I do not rule out some sort of proceedings. I am aware that there can be some retaliation, although I’m not asking for anything illegal. In the Mossos, if you defend the law, you make your life complicated. If you are non-pro-independence, the smartest thing to do is just to stay silent.