Spanish State: In Defense of Democratic Liberties

he arrest of Pablo Hasél sounded the alarm over the attack on free speech. With the consent of the government, the ’78 regime is increasingly unjust and undemocratic. They must be defeated with unity of action in mobilization.

By Flor Salgueiro Carral

On February 16, the Mossos d’Esquadra broke into the rectory of the University of Lleida and arrested rapper Pablo Hasél, to serve a sentence in the Ponent prison for “terrorism” and “insults to the Crown” Some of the demonstrations of repudiation of the detention, as in Vic, Girona and Valencia, were repressed. In Barcelona, a young woman lost an eye from a rubber bullet. Meanwhile, emeritus king Juan Carlos I is still at large in the United Arab Emirates, with accusations of corruption held against him. A few days ago, María Cristina Cifuentes – president of the Community of Madrid and MP for the PP between 2015 and 2018 – was unusually acquitted of the accusation for “documentary fraud” of her master’s degree. During the 14F electoral campaign in Catalonia, Vox had the attacks on Islamism and immigrants as campaign centerpieces. In Linares, two plainclothes policemen savagely beat a fourteen-year-old girl and her father, which led to a popular protest that was repressed and in which live ammunition was used. In Pamplona a judge ruled that the footage of repressive police operations cannot be uploaded to social networks. To complete the picture, neo-Nazis held an anti-Semitic event in Madrid in honor of the Blue Division, singing Francoist and anti-communist songs.

These reactionary demonstrations represent a minority, they receive active repudiation and rejection by a majority of the population. However, in the context of growing political polarization and mass media coverage, they are multiplied and magnified, which implies a threat that must be responded to firmly. The lukewarm condemnations that the bourgeois parties save face with are insufficient without direct action. Wherever they pop their heads up, they must be isolated and defeated with the widest unity of action in mobilization.

Last Tuesday will be sadly remembered in the pages of the history books of Spain, as the day that justice and security forces arrested a singer for expressing himself. Much can be written and said, but the truth is that they consider that Pablo Hasél’s “crime” is constituted by the lyrics of his songs and what he says on Twitter. That, which for the rest of humanity is part of freedom of speech, for the Spanish courts is “glorification of terrorism” and “insults to the Crown.” Let us remember that, in 2014, when the first conviction against Hasél was handed down, the magistrates ruled out that the lyrics of his songs were protected by the right to freedom of speech, since in them “hate speech beats in a clear way and it is not admissible within the scope of freedom of speech to incite violence, or to carry out hate speech”. The magistrates consider the art of singing extremely dangerous, but they do not think the same of the neo-Nazi rallies in the state capital, extolling the hatred of Jews and crimes against humanity.

The judiciary that has persecuted the rapper for years is the same one that a few days ago dismissed Cifuentes in the case of his falsified Master’s degree and “investigates” the emeritus king for corruption and embezzlement, but allows him to leave Spain to enjoy his luxurious life in Abu Dhabi. In the Spanish State, tensions are mounting due to social inequalities, growing poverty and cuts to democratic rights. Last weekend, the town of Linares made headlines after two policemen dressed in plain clothes brutally beat a father and his 14-year-old daughter for no reason. Linares is the Spanish city with the highest unemployment rate, above 30% and reaching 50% youth unemployment, for which the events experienced last Friday were the spark that lit a social powder keg that is being lived in the whole state.

The only response of the Pedro Sánchez executive is to apply small reformist patches to favor corporate profits, justify the repression and let the different expressions of the right act unhindered. Since he assumed the government of the PSOE-Unidas Podemos coalition, it has presented itself as the “most progressive government in history”, but under its watch the laws that allowed Hasél’s imprisonment remain in force.

The infamous Gag Law was enacted in 2015 and penalizes those cases that attempt to paralyze evictions, scale buildings or monuments without authorization, record the interventions of the police on public roads, or hold demonstrations without communicating. It is a Law that in practice has been used against social activism and obstructing the right to make demands and demonstrate peacefully. In addition to the aforementioned Law, in 2015 article 578 of the Penal Code on “glorification of terrorism” was amended with an inhibitory effect on freedom of speech.

When the PSOE and Podemos were opposition, they branded the Gag Law unconstitutional, undemocratic, violating the rights of demonstration, assembly and expression. They even said that it was a step back in the division of powers, since it gave the government the power to fine both protesters and the political opposition. Today that they govern, they seem to have forgotten their words and uphold these disastrous regulations. We are in the presence of a law that imprisoned Hasél, that forced the singer Valtonyc to go into exile in Belgium so as not to go to prison for the same reasons as Pablo and questions the publication of the Linares video; but is complacent with the aggressiveness and hatred that neo-Nazis and Vox express publicly.

The events mentioned had different motivations and characteristics, even occurred in different regions of the Spanish State. However, these are not isolated events, they are intimately related to the unjust, undemocratic and repressive actions of the ’78 regime, shaped by the Franco regime. It is increasingly evident that for the Spanish State they are taking the model of repression and jail that they applied against Catalan self-determination. It is necessary to strengthen the demonstrations with the widest unity of action, such as those in Catalonia in which we have participated from SOL. We have to win the streets to stand up to this government and put an end to the rotten regime of ’78, for the freedom of Pablo Hasél, freedom of speech, amnesty for political prisoners and exiles. For a general strike against unemployment, low wages and job insecurity. In short, against the consequences of the capitalist crisis.