On the 16th of last month, a 32-year-old man who had barricaded himself inside Lleida University was detained by Catalan police acting under the orders of the Spanish National Court, which had sentenced him to two years in jail (at the time of writing, he is currently behind bars). His arrest sparked off angry demonstrations in some 80 Catalan towns and cities. At the same time, artists, writers and musicians from Catalonia and Spain – and all of Catalonia’s major theatres (from the Catalan National Theatre to the Liceu Opera House), not to mention the Catalan ombudsman – condemned the arrest of the man in question, who goes by the nom de guerre Pablo Hasél (real name: Pau Rivadulla) and is an anarcho-communist whose 46 rapped songs are all available on free platforms, and include homages to Che Guevara and the Red Army Fraction (often with ironic titles, such as ’A gin and tonic with Andreas Baader’). Also included are descriptions of the former King Juan Carlos as a ‘monarchic mafioso’, which, given that said former King is now holed up in Abu Dhabi having laundered tens of millions of undeclared euros through a Panamanian shell company (and having other undeclared monies delivered to his Madrid palace in cash from a Swiss account), isn’t too wide of the mark, although this hasn’t stopped Hasél from being charged with ’attacks on the dignity of the King emeritus’. And Hasél’s description in another song of the Civil Guard as ‘shooting immigrants’ – criminalised by the National Court as ’a denigration of the dignity of the forces of law and order’ – is also pretty accurate, given that nine Africans drowned while trying to swim to Spain’s North African enclave in Melilla in 2014, their deaths caused in part by the pot shots taken at them with rubber bullets by Civil Guards. Hasél has also been convicted for ’exaltation’ of terrorism’ due to 64 tweets, most of which are taken directly from news items and criticise the double standards applied by Spanish judges to those who criticise the forces of law and order on the one hand, and to members of said forces who have committed actual crimes, on the other. Hasél has sometimes been accused by members of the public for going a bit over the top, but that doesn’t make him a terrorist. I call Niggers With Attitude as my witness: back in 1988 they rapped: ’A young nigga on the warpath/And when I’m finished it’s going to be a bloodbath/Of cops dying in L.A./Fuck the police, fuck fuck/Fuck the police...’ This track made it into Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
Three days before Hasél’s arrest, an organisation called Juventud Patriota organised a homage in Madrid to the Blue Division: the volunteers who went to fight alongside Hitler’s armed forces on the Russian front in WWII (one of the very few cases in which the Spanish military fought against people who weren’t Spanish passport holders). During the rally, which consisted of much arm raising and Francoist anthem singing, a keynote speaker said, as her young lips curled with hatred: ’The Jew is guilty. The enemy is always the same, no matter how many masks it wears: the Jew!’ I have no idea what’s going to happen to this individual, but I would bet my bottom euro it’s not going to be two years in jail.
Spain may not be the totalitarian state that Hasél claims it is, but a large chunk of its judiciary – obsessed with the sanctity of both royalty as well as the military, paramilitary and national police forces (not to mention with what it regards as the national apostasy of a majority of Catalan voters) – is most definitely benefiting from the protective shade of the fully-fledged Fascist nation that Spain was less than half a century ago.