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Magazine

11 December 2017
‘Now They’re Coming For Me, But It’s Too Late’

Marina Vives

There is no decoding; there isn’t enough distance. How can we speak of states of emergency here and now? It would be insane to suppose that my opinion is that of others, wouldn’t it? That would be the end of everything …

Yikes. Bringing everything to an end, that’s the idea. Oh, well perhaps it would be a headline. Clean slate. For better or worse.

 

Atzucac is a funny sounding word even for Catalan speakers (them, or us, depending on the mental place from where you’re reading). It means cul-de-sac, although it can also be used to describe the situation when an argument comes to a halt and you can’t find any way out. Physical and mental cornering.

Life in Catalonia has been strange for some time. Is there anything there, behind the atzucac? On the one hand there’s the concern – or dread – regarding an eventual exit. Leaving behind Spain, leaving behind the familiar, the European Union (what about our parents’ pensions or our youths’ unemployment benefits?). On the other, that of remaining in the state that has shown its authoritarian tendencies once again.

In this second scenario, it is in the interests of all political parties to lie relentlessly so that the Catalan independence movement (the threat) can frighten away any self-criticism by the darkest and most corrupt and tribal government of Spain’s fragile democracy. In a scenario with no way out, great repression and humiliation are to be expected. Atzucac.

Today, in the knowledge that things change as I write, the elected president of the seditious autonomous community is in Belgium, ‘exiled’ to avoid being sent to prison; two members of the government have spent a month in prison and two others are still behind bars, including the vice-president.

Two representatives of civil associations, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, have also been imprisoned, for almost two months. Let’s see. It’s easy to say or to write, but it should be given careful consideration: these people are in prison for their political ideas. Ideas that have been well known since 2015. People in prison although they haven’t committed any crimes. Political prisoners.

Weeks go by and the phase of adrenalin/euphoria/hysteria lets up, yet there are a couple of things that we could consider vital in all this. On the one hand, too shortly after the whole freak out – helicopters flying over the airspace 24/7, over 15,000 police sent over, sleeping on ships decorated with Loony Tunes characters (one day we’ll have to talk about the humiliation they’ve experienced), truncheon blows against elderly people who were trying to cast a symbolic vote – it’s sad to think that the truth is that many people of my generation had no previous notion of state violence. Now we do.

The other issue that we can mention, despite the short time that has elapsed, is that this violence wasn’t broadcast everywhere in the same way, and this is a key point. The images of the disproportionate use of violence were seen live in Berlin but not in Calatayud, because no public Spanish television channel transmitted what was taking place, just as no headline admitted that M-dot-Rajoy is circumstantially corrupt.

Today, Catalonia is governed by the party with the smallest number of votes (Partido Popular) that has imposed article 155 of the Spanish Constitution (for how long and to what extent?) and the Electoral Board has forbidden the colour yellow (because the ribbons in support of freedom are dangerous), along with the words ‘exile’ and ‘political prisoners’. It is also worthwhile mentioning that the Constitution defines Spain as a secular democratic state of law, and one of its rights is the right to freedom of speech.

This freedom was exercised by the members of La insurgencia hip hop band, who were sentenced by the National Court to two years and one day imprisonment for an ‘abstract threat’ contained in their lyrics, without this threat having been explained (note: the minimum sentence that enables offenders to avoid imprisonment is two years, hence the additional ‘one day’ to guarantee that they are actually sent to jail). The same National Court holds eight youths from Altasu in preventive prison one year after their arrest. Cassandra was judged for joking in a tweet about former Franco minister Carrero Blanco, the editors of El Jueves satirical magazine are taken to court because of their satire and the ‘hate message’ it contains, while members of the Madrid police, who do not use satire against the mayoress Carmena, are absolved. Where are the hate-crimes decrees for Marhuenda, Inda Arriaga, Urdaci, Antonio Jiménez, García Serrano, Alfonso Merlos, etc.?

These are difficult times, in which a political party that calls itself statutory and constitutional condemns all that is different and annoying. Times characterised by obscure corruption trials, privileges, lies, feeding hate and hostile dialectics. We find ourselves before an atzucac in which the tone and the guarantees can change forever. Where is the cultural class now that more than ever we need sensible, reflective and learned voices? Is there really such a lack of freedom in Spain? How much more space should we give to automated authoritarianism? How many more parts of our freedom do we want to parcel out to this client dynasty?

 

Author’s note: the title of this text refers to the poem by Martin Niemöller, falsely attributed to Bertolt Brecht.

Marina spent the first two years of her life without saying anything: they told her parents that she was internalizing. And even though it’s a while now since she learnt to talk, she still needs to internalize. To then shake things up, question, order, disorder and celebrate. She finds politics in many places and has a special interest in all that’s subaltern, in the “commons”, and in the points where all this has an impact on creative expression.

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