The rapper, ‘Valtonyc’, convicted by Spain to three and a half years in prison over the lyrics of his songs (in which he ‘glorified terrorism’ and criticised the monarchy), gave a press conference on Thursday in Brussels, where he’d fled to in May to avoid jail. The artist criticised the Spanish state for using the fight against terrorism as an excuse to prosecute political or social dissidents that have nothing to do with it. Whilst Spain’s justice system is seeking to extradite him (alongside a few others who have fled Spain for other reasons), Valtonyc said that his only crime was to ‘sing’ and ‘being left-wing, communist and pro-independence’. He said: ‘Apparently in Spain this is illegal, they persecute you and put you in prison.’ Well … I’m not quite sure about all that, Valtonyc. You can sing in Spain and you won’t go to jail (if you don’t ‘glorify terrorism’). You can also be left-wing, communist and in favour of independence, and that won’t necessarily land you in jail, either … although I admit it could stand against you.
I’m certainly more left-wing than right-wing, but I’m definitely not a communist, or, for that matter (and despite what many people think) necessarily ‘pro-independent’. I have only ever said that I believe people should have the right to vote. And I’ll always say it. Indeed, for simply having written (several times) that I believe Catalonia should have been allowed the right to vote in an agreed referendum (similar to the Scottish referendum), I have received abuse and threats via email and social media, including regular taunts from someone obsessed with wanting to shit on my mother. I recently found an email in my junk box from someone who wants to see me hanging from the cross at Franco’s tomb, the ‘Valley of the Fallen’. Why? Because I dared to write that I thought it was good news that Spain’s new Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, together with his PSOE-led socialist government (or ‘communist’ government, as some people describe it) announced that they intend to exhume Franco and move him to a more modest burial place.
What is it with you, Spain? Why does everything have to be only black or white, (or red or blue), or left or right? Why are there only two extremes? Why is anyone who isn’t a PP, C’s or (God forbid) a Vox supporter, a ‘communist’? And vice versa, why is anyone who is a PP or C’s supporter a ‘fascist’? It goes on and on and on … and at some point it needs to stop. Why is it that anyone who defends the right for the Catalans to have an agreed referendum labelled a ‘separatist’ – or someone intent on breaking the ‘unity of Spain’? It is illogical, if you think about it. Is it a fear, a knowing, that the Catalans would have voted (or did vote) to leave Spain? A decade ago, if they’d been granted a referendum, they probably wouldn’t have voted to do so … and so the ‘politics’ of the last PP government on this front simply failed, and failed spectacularly. But all last week we’ve seen the candidates to lead the ‘new PP’ (especially ‘SuperPablo’ Casado) competing with one another to see who can promise to be the harshest against the Catalans and the Basques! Is this what Spanish politics has become? Whoever promises to be the harshest against the Catalans and Basques will get the most votes? The longer this goes on, any ‘unity of Spain’ is simply doomed.
I clearly have so much more to learn about Spain, even having lived and worked here, on and off, in both Barcelona and Madrid for over 20 years. Right now, however, Spain looks like a country that is more divided than ever (and, most worryingly, even about Franco’s tomb), and it is also pretty clear that Felipe VI (thanks mainly to his own 3rd October speech) is the king of only half (if that) of it. Even though the ‘fascists’ (ie, the ‘non-separatists’ and ‘non-communists’) disagreed with it, I think it is good news that the Catalan political prisoners have been moved to jails in Catalonia; but I repeat: they shouldn’t be in any jails. And even though the ‘fascists’ (ie, the ‘non-separatists’ and ‘non-communists’) also disagree with it, I think it is very good that Pedro Sánchez is finally having a meeting with the Catalan President, Quim Torra, tomorrow. Pedro Sánchez needs to be given a chance. And so does Quim Torra. And so does Spain, and Catalonia, and the Basque Country. Sort it out …