"Cospedal is like my sister"

The November 2012 conversation between the president of the Catalan PP, Alicia Sánchez-Camacho and the police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, one of the founding moments of Operation Catalonia, is widely known.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
19 March 2023 Sunday 01:04
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"Cospedal is like my sister"

The November 2012 conversation between the president of the Catalan PP, Alicia Sánchez-Camacho and the police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, one of the founding moments of Operation Catalonia, is widely known. But its complete analysis, including the undisclosed contents, analyzed by La Vanguardia and Cronicalibe.com, provides a new light to better understand the illegal operation organized by high officials of the PP and the Ministry of the Interior , to stop the Catalan political crisis.

First, the chosen targets: politicians, businessmen and the media. In this last section, La Vanguardia occupied a special and prominent place, to which they both referred harshly and contemptuously and to which they proposed that pressure should be put on it in order to condition and influence it. Also about the clan struggles in the PP and the attempt by a sector of the police, embodied in Villarejo, to gain preeminence over the information services, the National Intelligence Center (CNI).

In this first meeting, it was made clear that the link between the two was the then General Secretary of the PP and later Minister of Defence, María Dolores de Cospedal, accused in one of the cases linked to Villarejo.

Both made explicit their obedience to Cospedal. "The fact that I'm here is because María Dolores trusts you to death," began the commissioner. Sánchez-Camacho replied with equal or more forcefulness: "Me too." María Dolores is like my sister." They thus confirmed what they said on other recordings and what was written in the police diary, that it was Cospedal who put them in touch.

Villarejo rounded off his credentials by talking about his relationship, "for 30 years" with Ignacio López del Hierro, a businessman and disturbing broker who also plays a prominent role in the police network. And he assured himself that "he has been working for the party all his life".

Finally, he nailed it by saying that he was "close to Juan Cotino", Director General of the Police in the Government of José María Aznar and that, according to this newspaper, he was the one who recommended the Minister of the Interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz, to turn to the services of Villarejo.

The two conspirators analyzed who would be part of their circle of trust. And of course, Sánchez-Camacho ruled out from the beginning counting on the minister, Fernández Díaz, for the relevant information, despite the fact that it was in his ministry that many of the most relevant events of Operation Catalonia took place. "Does Jorge know this?", he asked Villarejo, to add, "I don't know if I trust Jorge (...) I think he has some collusion with the Pujol family". He also explains that he recently met the minister on a train in Madrid, and that he did not know how to answer what he had gone to do in Barcelona, ​​but later he learned that he had paid a quick visit "to the foundation of Pujol father ". "It's very strange and it makes me..." whispers Sánchez-Camacho. Throughout the conversation, the head of the Catalan PP insists several times on the fact that the minister is not as holy as they make him out to be and that he passes information to the convergents. Villarejo undertakes not to inform him of his contacts, something he obviously will not do, in view of the commissioner's recordings and his diary entries.

Villarejo added to the list of fifth columnists to his black beasts, the alleged rival of his friend Cospedal, the vice-president of the Government of Mariano Rajoy, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and above all the National Intelligence Center (CNI), dependent of her and where the police had the greatest interest in penetrating, which he did not achieve thanks to the radical opposition of his manager, General Félix Sanz Roldán. That obsession would end up being one of the keys to Villarejo's downfall.

The police reasoned that "We have people within [the independence movement]. Right now, even if it sounds like a lie, we're not listening. I say that this is stupidity on the part of your little friend, [Sáenz de Santamaría] who is in charge of the CNI, or she thinks that this is a rule of the game of ten steps and here is someone who at five steps turns and stabs you in the back of the head".

Back to November 6, 2012, when there are three days left before the 25-N electoral campaign in Catalonia begins. The objective is made explicit: "Until the 25th we must ensure that these rascals do not get an absolute majority, but after that there is a whole war and it is essential for the party to have people like you", says the commissioner. "Fundamental for Spain", she adds. Influence public opinion, alter the electoral result.

The commissioner names Sánchez-Camacho as the savior of Catalonia, a "key" piece to obtain essential information for the operation they are launching.

Villarejo bluntly describes what the plan that he has been tasked with in part consists of and that he complements it with his chrematistic ethyl: obtain "nuclear" information - preferably "personal issues, not even party financing" - and filter it to the press It lists media and journalists who are waiting for the order.

Everything will be done without the intervention of politicians in any case, "so as not to burn" the PP. Villarejo and his team take care of it. "I have already told María Dolores that she must not give this type of nuclear information to journalists under any circumstances, never, ever." "The advantage - he says at another point - is that no one controls us, no one knows we exist and no one has any idea, nor should they know anything".

And in the end, the two together, make a list of characters whose lives must be made impossible, seek compromised information or, as will end up happening, fabricate false dossiers or with half-truths to disqualify them in front of the public public or open legal cases against them without a real basis.

Villarejo emphasizes several times that his first target is the Pujol family, since the president at the time of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, is an "adlater". "What interests us is to focus all the attention on the Pujols, especially on the Oriol", he says.

The two agree that Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, the former leader of Unió Democràtica de Catalunya (UDC), a party then in coalition with Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC) and which dissolved three years later, is "an agent double". "We have to uncover him, he is a key man", he says. "He must be defenestrated and sent into exile," she adds.

Because of their proximity to the Pujols, Sánchez-Camacho lists the Sumarroca family, owner of the construction company Emte, and Sandro Rosell, the businessman and president of Barça. Some time later, some member of the first family and the president of Barça would end up arrested, in the case of the second for two years. Sánchez-Camacho also asked to investigate Jaume Giró, then director general of Fundació La Caixa. "Now it has become completely pro-independence", he says.

The commissioner even offered to put pressure on the then director general of La Caixa, Juan María Nin, taking advantage of his differences with the president of the bank and the Foundation that owns the former, Isidre Fainé. She warned Villarejo against Narciso Ortega, former senior police chief of Catalonia, dismissed by Fernández Díaz, whom she claims is "close to Felip Puig", then Minister of the Interior. According to Camacho, Ortega cannot return to Catalonia.

Villarejo shares with Sánchez-Camacho the information that his team has. Supposed accounts in Andorra, for example. He tells her that he has been going to the Principality a lot. “We are there paying bankers. We are at the BPA", he says.

Villarejo left that meeting with two special names written down in his agenda: that of multi-convict Javier de la Rosa and that of an ex-girlfriend of Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, Victoria Álvarez. The two characters will become the two visible sources of Operation Catalunya, the ones who will file complaints and serve as the first journalistic revelations. De la Rosa told me that "he has documentation from the Pujol family and they wanted to give it to someone safe and who needed money", points out Sánchez-Camacho.