Posters against Maragalls reveal a parallel structure to ERC

Posters against Maragalls reveal a parallel structure to ERC

BarcelonaFor Pascual Maragall’s offensive posters about Alzheimer’s to see the light of day in the recent Barcelona municipal election campaign, there was at least one ERC militant who commissioned them, and three people from outside the organization who were contacted to hire them who were arrested and had a direct link between this militant and people at the head of the party. This is an example of the “la B” scheme, the parallel structure that bears this name from some of its promoters, which in recent years has been operating under Esquerra, according to several sources consulted by ARA, in the year-long investigation.

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The base of this structure is not occupied by a single militant, but several people who were part of it, up to five in the smallest nucleus, but it had a larger number of collaborators, many of them linked to the party’s youth. This newspaper was also able to verify the existence of a final cog in the mechanism: a company through which the bills for services provided are paid. The fit, dedicated to the world of digital marketing and regular for eight years in the party’s electoral campaigns, was chosen to make the payments.

In the case against Margal, ARA asserts that it worked as follows: the regular fighter – who was tasked with putting up the posters – presented the invoices to the party’s communications directors and they sent them to Reliance for payment. Invoices of 1,000 and 2,000 euros were presented at different times. And not only in the name of this fighter, but also in the name of one of the boys who put up the posters. In the messages and conversations that ARA has been able to access, since the judicial investigation has directly targeted them, the people who put up the posters accept that they could be caught if someone discovers the relationship between the party and the company, and they admit that if the invoices start coming out they will have no escape. They refer to invoices issued for “convenience” and that had previously passed through the ERC. Sources from the company confirm that they paid at least three invoices in the name of one of the young men who admitted before the judge to putting up posters against the Margal brothers. But they say that this was to carry out network surveillance tasks.

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These payments went to the young people on the posters, but also to the militant who hired them to do so, who was investigated by the Mossos d’Esquadra as a suspected perpetrator of a hate crime – which was eventually dismissed by a judge. The ERC’s communications department discovered that he was responsible for ordering the posters shortly after the controversy broke out. However, this young man from Igualada continued to collect at least €3,000 on two occasions after March 2023.

But this payment system was not new to the party. Several sources involved confirm that this is the usual way of working for the “La Pi” or “the boys”, as they are also referred to from the top of the communiqué, and this newspaper was able to verify this in several interviews. The invoices that these Republican hardliners and their sympathisers, as independents, – or the people they hire – for jobs that the party does not want to do directly, pass through some communications directors at the European Research Council and end up at Reliance. In fact, there were people in the party whose job it was to keep in touch with this group of young people, to find out how they were doing and what they needed.

Communications technician

Sources involved in this structure explain that the payments were regular, without the need to justify specific actions. The invoices, which ARA had access to, were issued in general terms such as “telecommunications technician”. Sources from Relevant acknowledge the existence of these invoices, each worth 1,000 or 2,000 euros, but they confirm that they always received a return in the form of reports on social networks. The company would pay dozens of people through this system. The ERC assigns the link to prepare these reports, but the ERC also chooses the people who should prepare them, the company says, and it is limited to accepting them.

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Two of the ERC’s top political leaders in communications knew about “la B”, as this newspaper confirms: Sergi Sabria, current Deputy Minister of Government, and Marc Colomer. Both were at one time Deputy Minister of Communications at the ERC. Consulted by ARA, both deny involvement in this parallel structure, which they say they had no knowledge of, despite evidence that this newspaper was able to contradict during the investigation. The party’s official position is as follows: “ERC does not have this structure and has never paid invoices that were not for the work that was commissioned”. In the case of the Maragall posters, the party refers to a specific action taken by the then Communications Director, Tolo Moya. ARA has verified that Moya maintained dialogue with the youth and also passed the invoices to the relevant parties, but that he also did not have the initiative in “la B” and that he received orders from the leaders of political communication. In this sense, the youth who worked in “la B” confirm to this newspaper that Moya was only their intermediary, but that the coordination of the group came from above.

ARA has evidence of at least three actions promoted by this group, although different sources put the number in the dozens – many of them, through social networks, in the form of fake profiles. The person holding the posters against Maragall is the only one who ended up being prosecuted: the ERC candidate for mayor of Barcelona did not know that it was a false flag attack until January of this year, ten months after the “sticking of the posters”. Shortly after, and after talking with people from the party and the government, Maragall decided to withdraw the complaint he had filed in March 2023.

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Mariachis at Junts

On September 29, 2022, in front of the headquarters of the three Gents Mariachi They devoted themselves to playing their repertoire while the executive inside debated whether they should leave the government after the dismissal of Jordi Buenero. They were appointed by phone – after assessing several available groups – and were sent to the front floor to avoid being told that this was a political act at the border headquarters. Mariachi They were not paid through the connection, but the contact – from the same group that commissioned the posters against Margal – continued to pay through the pre-established system. In the last municipal elections, to emphasize the collusion between the programs of Jaume Colbone (PSC) and Xavier Trias (Junts), “la B” promoted another poster, a kiss on the mouth between the two rival leaders.

In general, sources explain to ARA, it is a question of taking actions that the party does not want to be attributed to. The sources admit that sometimes, as in the case of Pascual Maragall’s posters against Alzheimer’s, things have gotten out of hand. An attempt has been made to keep the contact between some people in the communications dome and the popular militants who are part of this structure as secret as possible: messaging apps such as Keybase, Confide and Signal are used, which are difficult to trace.

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