03 d’octubre 2007

Burn, baby, burn!

Girona, Manresa, Molins de Rei, Lleida, Vic, Tarragona, València and Alacant (in the Valencian Country), Sabadell, Barcelona, Figueres, UAB (Autonomous University of Barcelona), UB (University of Barcelona), URV (Rovira i Virgili University)... The fire spreads throughout the country. The visit of the King of Spain to the Catalan city of Girona on september 13 was responded by an anti-monarchical (and anti-Bourbonic) demonstration with the burning of a portrait of the king as a symbol of all what is Spanish. The "legal" Spanish repression machine started to move.

The Audiencia Nacional (a Spanish pre-democratic judicial court, heir of the Tribunal de Orden Público -Court for the Public Order- a repressive court of Franco's fascist dictatorship) soon forced an investigation to accuse the "burner" of slanderous allegations about the king. He soon was identified and taken to Madrid (now he is free but waiting for the trial). The attorney demands a sentence of 15 months of prison (in comparision, the smallest sentence for the abandon of a baby child is 15 months -the Spanish penal code is so fair...). Recently, the Audiencia Nacional ordered the "kidnapping" of the satiric magazine "el Jueves" under the same accusation (see this post) and the authors are waiting for the trial (at least it seems they won't have to face prison). This last week an ultra-Spanish group of people attacked a pro-Catalan activist in Valencia. The victim has lost an eye, half an ear and his mouth is broken (among other bones and injuries). Last may, the local office of ERC (the Catalan independist party) in the town of Sant Vicenç dels Horts (not far from Barcelona) was attacked and burned by Spanish factions during the celebrations of the winning of the Spanish football league by Real Madrid. The same day, in the Catalan town of Reus, some Real Madrid fans burned the Catalan flag with impunity. In the Catalan town of Castellar del Vallès, nazi groups (with Spanish flags in their shirts) use to attack immigrants and members of Catalanist parties while the Spanish National Police stares in silence. But these kind of actions are not interesting to the Audiencia Nacional. Burning Spanish symbols is a crime that can finish with the "criminal" in jail. Burning Catalan symbols and attacking Catalanist people is another Spanish "fiesta". None Spanish media inform about the Spanish attacks while they exagerate to the maximum the Catalan actions against Spanish symbols (increasing catalanophobia in Spain).

Back to the main affair of this post. The arrest of the "burner" by the Audiencia Nacional has lit the fuse of civil desobedience. Some Catalan jurists and politicians have expressed that the burning of a portrait of the king must be considered free expression and not a crime. Days after the arrest, 300 people gathered in Girona and Molins de Rei and many of them burned protraits of the king in support of the arrested independentist. The Audiencia Nacional ordered the arrest of all the criminal "burners" and, in a decision that has no antecedents in democracy, forced some journalists and members of the press to break their right of information and privacy and give the Spanish authorities all their photos and information in order to identify more "criminals". The next day many of them made a public protest and a demonstration leaving their cameras on the ground. Nine more independentists have been arrested. The witch hunting has begun.

Soon the call for more anti-monarchical demonstrations have arisen with the slogan "I also burn the Spanish crown" and "Catalans have no king" while satiric magazines and programs have begun to tell jokes about the king. In the other side, the Spanish nationalists are feeling more and more insulted by the "vandals and criminal Catalans" every day.

Today in Madrid some Catalan independentists (in support of the arrested ones) and some Spanish fascist were face to face. Nothing happened this time apart from the insults due to the presence of the police. What was an isolated spark has become a fire that can spread all along the country.

You can agree or disagree with the fact of burning portraits. You can like or dislike the monarchy. But you cannot disagree with free expression. If burning Spanish symbols is a crime, why burning Catalan symbols isn't? The democratic democracy of the heirs of fascism. A sour drink hard to swallow. Repression only feeds more civil desobedience.

It has not finished yet. Shame on Spain.
Freedom for Catalonia.