Cartoon boat becomes symbol of bitter battle over Catalonia

As tensions between Catalonia and Madrid increase due to the referendum on independence planned for October 1, citizens have found the funny side of the conflict. The Spanish government chartered two large cruises in the Barcelona harbour for the 5,000 police officers that are reinforcing the deployment to stop the referendum.

One of the vessels has caught the attention of many people. It’s decorated with Looney Tunes characters like Tweety, Daffy Duck and Wile E. Coyote that are now covered with tarpaulins.

Barcelona’s viewpoint Mirador del Migdia, in Montjuïc, has become the best place to contemplate the ship. Giant cartoons don’t leave people indifferent. “It’s a joke, it’s grotesque,” says Josep Balcells, a Catalan citizen who came to the park to see this peculiar new attraction.

“Hiring Looney Tunes cruise liner to house Spanish police is seedy. It’s ridiculous. The cartoons have been covered with tarps, but everybody has seen them,” explains Quim Portet.

Tourists are also surprised. “Why does the Interior Ministry host Spanish police in a ship like this?” says Míriam V., an Argentinian who doesn’t understand what’s happening in Catalonia.

Inside the ship, there is also controversy. Spanish police officers complained about rooms and breakfast poor conditions. According to the Unified Police Union, it’s “miserable”.

In addition, harbour stevedores refused to serve the vessels, as they say that there have been “cuts on civil rights”, according to Josep Maria Deop, secretary of Barcelona’s harbour stevedores organization. Deop notices, however, that “both ships can supply themselves”.

🎤portavozsup 👮🏼desplazados a BCN están trabajando de uniforme y de “paisano”, PEDIMOS QUE SE RECONOZCA ESTE TRABAJO— SUP (Sup_Policia) 27 de septiembre de 2017

As a result, groups of citizens are trying to bring food to the cruise, which has been difficult due to security measures. Despite this, some have managed to provide Iberian ham and Rioja wine to the police.

Decenas de ciudadanos llevan comida a la Policía y Guardia Civil en el puerto de Barcelona— Sheldon (@numer344) 25 de septiembre de 2017

Antonio Amador was one of the attendees to the demonstration of support to the security forces, last Sunday. They brought bread, sausages and cans of various products. They don’t know if they got to the boat. Anyway, he says that it’s a “symbolic” action, since the most important is to show “support” and “gratefulness” to the police.

#FreeTweety, trending topic

Citizens have been making mockery on social media, ironizing about the decoration of the ship. Tweety has even become a symbol of the independence referendum. There is a campaign asking for his freedom, after being covered with tarps, with hashtags like #FreePiolin, #FreeTweety or #TotssomPiolin.

“Be strong, Tweety,” “Tweety lives, the fight continues” or “I thought I saw a pussy cat who says that on October 1 we will vote to be free” are some of the messages that have been seen on social networks.

By Anna Lladó Ferrer
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