Tuesday morning December 16 surprised us with a wave of searches and arrests … Were we surprised? We will not lie. Let’s start over. Tuesday morning, December 16th did NOT surprise us. The Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Civil Guard and judicial officers of the Supreme Court raided more than 10 homes and some anarchist’s premises in Barcelona, Sabadell, Manresa and Madrid searching, arresting, confiscating propaganda and computer equipment, and taking the opportunity to raid and loot. Using all the riot cops in the Mobile Brigade of the Mossos d’Esquadra also raided the Kasa de la Muntanya, an occupied space for over 25 years. According to the press, in its role as police spokesman, the aim of these arrests is to undo “a criminal organization with terrorist aims and violent anarchist character. “Even though it’s easy to repeat ourselves will we do it once again: the only criminal organization that seeks to terrorize people with its violent character is the state and its tentacles: the press, the legal system, and repressive and political bodies of the entire spectrum.
Why did this repressive action not surprise us? Because we were expecting it. It’s not about being an oracle, but, about reading between the lines, and sometimes literally, like with what happened with the arrest of other comrades last year. They have been orchestrating repressive strikes like what happened on Tuesday against libertarian and anti-authoritarian spaces for a long time. Although other raids werent as grandiose, such situations were on the horizon.
The “Italian” job
For a couple of decades the anarchist environment in the neighboring region of Italy, from time to time, and in recent years increasingly more regularly, is confronted with macro operations similar to Tuesday. Not only in the format of simultaneous raids and searches in different houses, but also the use of names that sound easy to remember containing a certain black humor, as in this current operation, called Pandora. Because this case, according to the press citing their judicial sources “was a box that despite numerous scares, there was no way to open. “Numerous “scares” refers to various actions that happened in recent years throughout the Spanish territory. Returning to the Italian operations, the names that they´ve used in recent years include titles like Operation Thor, whose name alluded to the prosecution of a series of attacks with hammers to ATMs and other offices, or Operation Ixodidae, the scientific name for a tick and a word fascists use in referring to communists and anarchists, other operations have donned names like Daring, Cervantes, Nottetempo, and so on.
In addition to the procedure and nomenclature, another common factor with our neighboring country is the role of the press, which also helped us visualize what was coming. Slightly more than three years ago, the Spanish press began a campaign to prepare the field so that operations like these are not only possible but predictable. They did this by focusing on spaces and groups and in some cases even people, at times publishing full names, etc. Working on building a somewhat bizarre and caricatured image of an internal enemy, that, while it has been used for decades has, in recent years, taken a very specific character: the “violent anarchist”, the “insurrectionist”, the “antisistema that infiltrates social movements “and so on.
The Chilean fiasco
The year 2010 was a glorious year for the Chilean state. Besides being elected president, the fourth richest businessman in the country, right-winger Sebastián Piñera orchestrated a judicial and mediatic police operation against the anti-authoritarian scene. More than a dozen searches and arrests were made in what is known as Operation Salamandra, popularly referred to as “Caso Bombas“. Based on the investigation of a series of bombings that occurred in previous years, and the police’s imaginary hierarchical macrostructure of an alleged network in charge of all these explosions a circus was created that not only weakened the State’s image but left it looking ridiculous when it revealed what gross research procedures were utilized- falsification of evidence, blackmail and pressure to get informants or “repentants” at random and so on. The process ended with the acquittal of everyone charged and a thirst for vengeance by the Chilean State against the scene and people involved.
A year after the end of the “Caso bombas” farce, another operation, this time on this side of the pond, saw ministries, and both Spanish and Chilean police and courts work together on a new case. Monica Caballero and Francisco Solar, both acquitted in the “Caso bombas” were arrested in Barcelona, where they were living at the time, along with 3 other people who then were later let out of jail. They were accused of placing a bomb in the Basilica del Pilar in Zaragoza, conspiracy to commit a similar event and belonging to an alleged terrorist organization. These comrades are currently in custody awaiting trial.
We do not know when it will be, nor do we know how this new crackdown will alter its process. The situation is more or less known by all and if we are sure of one thing it is that the recent arrests serve to give legs to a case that can’t be held up on its own.
A few hours before the arrests on Tuesday the Spanish government Sent out a notice through their media whores that “the Spanish and Chilean ministries of the Interior had opened a new phase of enhanced cooperation in combating anarchist terrorism “. On Monday December 15, the Spanish Minister of the Interior Jorge Fernandez Diaz, met in Chile with the vice president and Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Peñailillo at the Palacio de La Moneda, the house of government in Santiago, Chile. “In the fight against terrorism, Chile has found, in Spain, a solid ally, “the Spaniard boasted, as he was awarded the grand cross of the Order of Merit of Chile, “the State’s highest distinction for civil merit “according to the press. In this case the Chilean state’s trophy was given for police work and as a reward for the arrest of Monica and Francisco last year. In addition to accolades and awards, the businessman Fernández was to sell some of his own wares: police training, and various judicial and repressive materials and so on.
And what is to come…
What is this repressive step? We do not know. So far little is know as to how are our comrades are doing, what, exactly, they are accused of, and what repressive measures will be used, if they will be kept in jail or not, etcetera. The truth is that this operation is not an isolated incident, but a link in a chain. A repressive chain, at some moments brutal and others subtle, that with new laws (just think about the recent Gag Law)1 facilitates the siege of undocumented peoples through ever- increasing massive racist raids, police brutality, and the aspiration to manage its misery and administer repression, which after all is what makes the state.
A pseudo-left State (with Podemos2 at the lead) that is increasingly obvious in its parody of itself. Evictions, beat-downs, fascism, legal hardening and punitive damages of any kind, nationalists and social democrats, are what the present will bring. Do not expect anything worse, the worst has never left. The range of possibilities of Spanish counterterrorism is open ended and everything can be made to fit in. It is there, in view, to remind us that, for the State, to struggle is terrorism. It works like a scarecrow. Are we going to be scared off?
The State and its agents say they have opened Pandora’s box. In Greek mythology, Pandora is the equivalent of the bible’s Eve. With the same misogynist characteristics in both mythologies Pandora opened the box, just as Eve eats the apple, and releases all the evils found inside. We are able to create our own story and skip over all the mythological shit as we wish. Our history is different. The “box” that was opened in this crackdown urges us to act, to remain vigilant, to be alert to the next chapters in the story. It makes us think and rethink what type of world we want and the distance between the two. It leads us to see the urgency to act, to move forward.
The arrested comrades are part of distinct projects, spaces, groups, etc., and it is very important that this not decay, that the ruin (in every sense of the word) that usually accompanies this type of situation does not generate helplessness and a feeling of paralysis. We always say that “the best solidarity is to continue the struggle.” Okay, but what does that mean in practice? We chanted “if they touch one of us, they touch us all.´´ This is evidenced in the many responses and protests following what happened on Tuesday, as well as the unconditional warmth from comrades on the outside.
We can be sure of one thing, that our arrested comrades can feel the warmth through the bars and isolation, because it is the same warmth that at different times they too have given.
Barcelona, December 18, 2014
1 La ley mordaza (gag law) a recent law criminalizing a broad spectrum of civil unrest including demos, leaflets, assembly etc.
2 Podemos- a newly formed leftist party