The Green Anticapitalist Front translated an statement published by the Federación Anarquista Gran Canaria (Gran Canaria Anarquist Federation) where they detail the political persecution of their member Ruymán Rodríguez, who is facing false charges to cover up the brutal violence they inflicted upon him as part of a ploy to repress the radical housing movement in Gran Canaria. The FAGC he’s part of has been involved in a very successful social movement for housing in Gran Canaria and has helped hundreds of families left abandoned by the state. Like any other threat to its legitimacy, the state couldn’t allow this to continue unchallenged.
This happens as the protests for the political incarceration of Catalan anti-fascist rapper Pablo Hasél continue. And in fact just as it’s announced that 8 anarchists have been arrested accused without evidence of participating in the burning of a police van during these protests. This is clearly a move against the whole of the anarchist and anti-authoritarian movement, which they seek to use as the scapegoat to try to smother the flames of revolt spreading all over the Spanish state after years of pent up rage for the many injustices the people have suffered under it.
It’s also difficult not to notice the significance of this happening only a day after we remembered the anniversary of the death of Salvador Puig, an anti-capitalist killed by the Francoist regime in what became the last death sentence in Spain to date, precipitating the end of the dictatorship soon after. As we can see, the transition to democracy made little difference in stopping the political repression or solve any of the issues accosting the people. Rather, it has allowed for the crimes of the dictatorship to go unpunished and for all the institutions that create misery for the people, such as the guarcia civil that tortured Ruy, to continue operating unchallenged. This is the nature of democracies: a more stable and cunning form of domination.
We therefore cannot see this as anything else but the continuation of the campaign of social warfare states wage against their people to keep them under their rule. This war is always takes place unilaterally by the state even when there’s not significant opposition to it, but it escalates as soon as its subjects attempt to fight back by abandoning the useless calls for civility and non-violence, the meaningless gestures, marches and electoral aspirations. The arrival of the “most progressive government in the history of the democracy” in Spain has done nothing to stop this. And in fact, it has allowed it to continue more efficiently and brutal than ever by buying the support of parts of the left with electoral promises of representation.
It’s in this context that we call on all members of the international anarchist, anti-authoritarian and antifascist movement to extend their solidarity to Ruymán Rodríguez and the FAGC as well as to everyone else suffering the repression of the Spanish state. Just as they ramp up their campaign of violence, so must we increase the intensity of our fight for freedom. Messages and shows of solidarity are needed, but also actions that target the state and its institutions. No matter in what part of the world you find yourself, our enemy is the same. And any threat to one of its parts affects the whole. Let them feel the fear of those who won’t bow down to their violence.
Solidarity with Ruymán Rodríguez!
Solidarity with the victims of state violence!
Burn down the prisons, free all prisoners!
– GAF London
Video: Interview with Gran Canaria Anarchist Federation
This is the ranslated statement originally published by the FAGC:
We’ve been notified that on the next 24th of March our pal Ruymán Rodríguez will be taken to the court. “Casually” it’s been little more than a month since we came back to have a presence online. The prosecution asks for 1 year and 6 months of jail time (and a 770€ fine) for a baseless crime of “assault against authority”.
Let’s illuminate the background of this case. End of April 2015. Ruy is about to leave for his job (taking care of the elderly) when two guardias civiles (Spanish militarized police force in charge of civil policing) approach him in the bus stop of Guagua. Without even identifying themselves, they kidnap him and take him to the station.
There it starts the session of insults, death threats, abuse and finally slaps, beat ups and strangling…they only stop after he starts spitting blood.
Ruy refuses to make a declaration, requests the Habeas Corpus, medical assistance and that a lawyer of his choosing is informed. He also threatens them with publicly denouncing the tortures. Like he finally did. This is when the guarcias civiles start to be afraid. They haven’t arrested a helpless person incapable of reacting. This is where the accusation of assault against authority is born, to justify Ruy’s injuries.
They accuse him of kicking in the groing one of the guarcias civiles who was torturing him in the interrogation room. The accusation of assault against authority, a “crime” that happens after the arrest, is also an attempt to justify the police actions.
They justify the kidnapping due to the need of identifying Ruy because, according to them, he refused to identify himself. And why was it supposedly necessary to identify him? Because of an accusation made by a person who entered into “La Esperanza” community without permission, without giving any of the required documentation and who made an accusation against all of the “Rehousing Commission” that came to confront him. These are the requirements (in Spanish). In total 6 people were accused of “coercion”. None of them, logically, were arrested. Ruy, the only one who wasn’t present when this took place, the only one whose name the accuser must have known, is “casually” the only one arrested.
Do you think that’s where this this pantomime stops? When Ruy was arrested it had been days since the accuser, to whom we had been able to explain the rehousing protocol, HAD ALREADY WITHDRAWN ALL THE ACCUSATIONS. There was no reason to identify Ruy, or to detain him or to arrest him.
This is the truth: since 2011 the FAGC has been taking actions that the system couldn’t assimilate. Hundreds of expropriations and rehousings and hundreds of evictions stopped. We’ve helped more people to access a house than any other institution in the Canary Islands. We’ve also promoted the biggest housing socialization project of the Spanish state: 76 families, 200 people, most of them kids, living autonomously in “La Esperanza”. Currently there are 10 other communities of similar characteristics only in this island.
“La Esperanza” was a cause of distress for the Guarcia Civil in Guía. An ancient municipality with high standard of living, but little social and cultural activity. As the Community grew so did the police hostility. During the almost 24 hours the police had Ruy arrested the guarcias civiles said things to Ruy like “you are making Guía full of scum”. Also “go to Las Palmas to burn containers and leave that rehousing shit already”.
The hate for the poor by the police and the institutions and the government’s worry that an incipient anarchism got in contact, after many year of self-isolation, with destitute families, migrants and the homeless. This is the background to understand the arrest of Ruy.
They wanted to cut at its root what later would become a potent housing movement with libertarian influences that would end up crystallising in the “Sindicato de Inquilin@as de Gran Canaria”. They wanted to stop this(Video below):
We ask all the social collectives, independent media, etc to make theirs our demand of #RuymánLibertad (#FreeRuyman) and that they be ready to sound the alarm if the legal situation of our pal worsens. Without solidarity we are destined to be defeated.
They ask prison sentences for those who protests, fight and question. For those who, like in this case, have done nothing but help poor families to have a roof over their head. We are immersed in an escalation of repression which we’ll only be able to confront if we are united.
They want to punish Ruy because they believe that with this they’ll be able to destroy what we’ve been building for almost a decade in this island: a neighbourhood anarchism by the poor for the poor. They don’t understand what it means to face off against a social project that comes from bellow.
They are naive if they think we are going to allow them to crush us. Not even with all their gags they’ll be able to stops from continue to shout: “Bring down the walls of the prisons!” “Political or social, let all prisoners out” And of course: #RuymánLibertad (#FreeRuyman).
Statement by Ruymán Rodrguez: A judgement
In a few weeks I will be tried and also, undoubtedly, convicted. I am accused of the crime of an “attack on authority” (poetic, for an anarchist) and I face a minimum sentence of 1 year and 6 months in prison and a 770 euro fine. All this for supposedly having kicked a civil guard in 2015 in the barracks where I was detained and tortured in order to intimidate me and destabilise the self-managed housing project of “La Esperanza” Community, located in the Gran Canaria municipality of Guía. .
I will not waste time in claiming my innocence or similar nonsense, and even less when there are comrades who at this moment, as I write, are already in jail. Also, it would be useless. That I will be condemned is as certain as that tomorrow the sun will rise. An attempt will be made with this (if I want to avoid, it seems, the execution of the sentence) to keep me “calm” and to keep me from inciting for a few years, if possible, a Canarian anarchism and an island movement for the right to a home that has been a nuisance for far too long and beyond any means of response.
And then they say that we anarchists are naive … If they think that the conviction of activists and the need of the evicted can be stifled with laws, trials and sentences, they have not understood anything. Even the founders of Roman Law themselves assumed it: necessitas caret lege (“necessity lacks law”). No paper or bar has ever been able to crush the survival instinct and the urge to get food and shelter. My conviction won’t accomplish it either.
Having said that, I would like to use this episode as a pretext to share some reflections on the judicial system and its mechanisms.
The first is the act of judgment itself. Entering for the first time in a room where you are going to be tried is like taking part in a kind of overwhelming ritual. The overloaded liturgy, the archaic language, the dehumanised atmosphere, the ridiculous clothing, everything necessary to create a solemn atmosphere that overwhelms the victim and makes him prey to anguish and guilt. The feeling is like approaching a sacrificial altar where a high priest can decide, at his whim, your fate. Although all of this is adorned with the bureaucratic paraphernalia of the modern era, the event is tremendously similar to what a shaman might celebrate consulting the spirits about the guilt of the offender or an inquisitor demanding that he confess the truth before God: people in absurd disguises assume a role of supreme authority and decide on the fate of others based on a formula, written or not, which for the accused acquires a certain supernatural character.
Experience or political militancy can gradually crack the magical aspect of the festive like moment. Seeing the protagonists moments after the trial with their robes in hand, laughing at what happened in the courtroom, talking about football while pissing in the courtroom toilets or gulping a coffee down with a shot of brandy, while smoking on a nearby terrace, takes away a bit of the rigor from the occasion. It is like arrests and being taken to the police station, over time you come to understand that everything is a little theater, a huge, pathetic, comical and at the same time dramatic farce. Adult people, proud of symbols and uniforms, protected by rank, are more or less convinced of the role they play and that they have turned a comic opera, a tragic carnival, into a respectable profession that their children can show off at school. If they did not have the power to destroy the lives of others, they would be worthy of being pitied.
But all this circus is based on the sacred text of civil society from the Code of Hammurabi: the law.
Whether or not societies need a written code to regulate themselves can be a matter of debate. That this code is chosen by a minority based on their interests, imposed on the majority and enforced through compulsion or violence, seems to me much less debatable. Whenever we anarchists raise the ridiculousness that a vertically imposed code governs our lives, we are asked what we would do with crimes, violence, etc. (if they gave us a penny every time we were questioned about this, we would have a GDP much higher than of any State). The reality is that criminal codes have been around for centuries and they have never been able to mitigate or suppress human violence; with some luck, they have refined it.
The Spanish Penal Code, like all punitive codes in the rest of the world, is only based on the defense of two elementary principles: protecting private property (all articles on theft, trespassing, usurpation, etc., derive from there)(1) and guaranteeing that it be the State, and not any private individual, that possesses the monopoly of violence (to use Max Weber’s expression). The State has no interest in suppressing violence; it only wants to control it and make sure that no one disputes the privilege of its application. That, above any moral issues, is the foundation from which all the articles that criminalise the use of violence between third parties emanates.
Even when this is admitted, we will continue to insist on what is the anarchist alternative to laws, prisons, police and the judiciary. Many comrades, before and better than me, have bequeathed to us elaborate answers in this regard.(2) With less time and lights, I can only say that I do not know the perfect and definitive solution, because perhaps there is none. I only know that the Spanish State has almost the largest prison population in the EU, with one of the lowest crime rates.(3) I only know that crimes related to the violation of private property would lose their reason for being if we had a society where wealth was shared by all and was not held in the hands of a small part of the population. I only know that a large part of the prisoners in Spanish prisons are held for moral crimes and crimes that may no longer be so tomorrow, such as those related to drugs (just as adultery is no longer punishable). I only know that natural human phenomena such as migration are considered illegal and that locking up thousands of people in subhuman conditions on that pretext, as is happening right now in the Canary Islands, seems to be something perfectly legal. I only know that in the Spanish State it is a crime to blaspheme God, to insult the flag, the king or the autonomous communities, to make comments in bad taste about terrorism (of course, extreme-right or State terrorism is excluded) and that there are people prosecuted or imprisoned for jokes, songs, plays, performances or for burning symbols. I only know that professional police forces have existed for centuries and have only served to maintain the privileges of the ruling class, safeguard inequality, persecute poverty, repress political dissent and impose a vertical violence far superior to any horizontal violence. I only know that prisons display a serious state of social immaturity, where the State, turned into an ignorant and cruel father, solves the problems of its son, the disruptive individual, locking him in a dark room until he learns his lesson. I only know that after millennia, with all kinds of sentences, life sentences or death sentences, violence has not diminished one iota. I only know that there may never be a cure for human violence, but that perhaps it would not be wrong to analyse what percentage of heinous acts are a reflection of the society in which they occur, to try other models of society and to learn about where perhaps men are not taught that to violate women is part of our nature and our privileges; to experiment, perhaps, with other forms of conflict resolution that do not involve adding more violence to violence or burying problems, even when those problems are human beings, under the rug.
As humans, we suffer a cognitive dissociation that tears us apart from the inside. Two morals have been grafted onto us: a superficial one (the one that publicly defines what is good or bad) and the other deep (the one that intimately defines what is good or bad), the same ones that allow us to repeat that “killing is bad” while we are able to rationalise as acceptable that a soldier or policeman can shoot someone. We have been educated to internalise individual violence as a phenomenon disconnected from social, economic and governmental violence. We have been indoctrinated so that wars, heteropatriarchy, evictions, dismissals, labor exploitation, institutional racism, torture and police charges, seem to us violence of a more acceptable, logical, rational nature than spontaneous violence by individuals. They have taught us that there are laws of blood – such as those relating to property and obedience – that are mandatory, and paper laws – such as those that speak of the social responsibility of States – that can be ignored without consequences. We have been accustomed to the fact that companies, institutions and parties can break their own laws, like birds crossing a spider web, while we, mere flies, get entangled in the most ridiculous crimes, as old Callicles said.
Despite this certain and harsh conclusion, the real, sensitive world, far from artifice and mind control measures, can make its way even if they throw you into the most infectious hole. All we need is to learn to reduce the official world to its proper dimension, powerful when it comes to brute force, but fake, fictitious and painful in its purest expression. Everything is limited to the fact that a group of people, believers in the principle of authority that establishes that some people are superior to others, disguise themselves as judges and policemen to force us to do what another group of people, who disguise themselves as politicians, write periodically in a book that dictates what is a crime and what is not, and all this to safeguard the heritage of another small group of people who have spent centuries disguising themselves as owners, monopolising what belongs to everyone and dictating what the rest of the disguised people do. You cannot take something like this seriously, although unfortunately because of this practical joke, people lose their freedom, their health, physical and mental, years of life or even life itself.
But no matter how much damage they do to us, they will never be able to erase a crude evidence: their laws, even those of blood, are written on paper and it is certain that one day, sooner or later, it will rain.
From where I am, and by way of conclusion, I just want to offer my gratitude to all the comrades and all the groups that in one way or another have expressed solidarity with my personal situation. I can never thank you enough. You have made it possible for me to continue active on a front of struggle as unfortunate but necessarily public and visible as the one faced by the Federación Anarquista de Gran Canaria and the Sindicato de Inquilinas de Gran Canaria. Also to my comrades from both organisations, to my comrades of daily fatigue, for being here when the easiest thing was not to be, for helping me pick up the pieces. Thank you all.
Just remember that if these bastards forbid us to breathe, they’ll only get one thing: disobedience, at least twelve times a minute. Breathe hard, my friends.
North Africa, at the end of year 1 of the pandemic dystopia
- Even crimes against public health and all those related to drug trafficking have no other pillar than the defense of private property: the illegalisation of alcohol between 1920-1933 in the United States (the so-called “Dry Law”) caused the the rise of organised crime, causing a product like alcohol to reach an exorbitant price and thus yielding huge profits for smugglers. Today, it is clear, the legalisation of drugs would lower their price and cause large-scale drug trafficking to lose huge dividends. As long as drugs are illegal, their price will not fall and the profit margin of the big traffickers, who also have the right to have their private property protected, will be maintained.
- The list of works would turn this humble reflection into an academic bibliography. Petter Kropotkin’s classic Prisons (1887) is sufficient for those interested.
- Violeta Aguado, “España tiene menos delitos que la media europea pero más personas encarceladas [Spain has fewer crimes than the European average but more people incarcerated]” (elDiario.es), April 21, 2016.