Pirate Activist Risks 4 Years in Prison for Protest

Pirate Activist Risks 4 Years in Prison for Protest

On 14 November 2012 there was a big strike and demonstration in Spain. Other European countries were having similar strikes since this was Europe’s day of anti-austerity strike. In Spain, the demonstration was about the Troika, the labor law reform and the pay cuts in public services’ (and retirement cuts).

The demonstration associated with the Spanish strike is remembered as violent (police/government against people). The strike caused more than 150 arrests. The violence was from police was prevalent, Ester Quintana, lost her eye after a rubber bullet hit it.

One of the arrested was a Pirate, Francisco Garrobo (from Pirates de Catalunya). Francisco is the Regional Coordinator and works with supplying local information/materials as well as encouraging the exchange of them. Pirates de Catalunya is a decentralized organization (bottom-up), where parties are autonomous but network with each other.

Francisco is a well know activist in his neighborhood, Nou Barris, in Barcelona. He is an active member of the anti-evictions movement, collaborates with a Self-Managed Social Center (La Vaina) and he was involved from the beginning of the 15M (Indignados’ movement) in many assemblies. Francisco is a very active member of Pirates de Catalunya, Confederación Pirata and the civic confluence in Barcelona: CUP-Capgirem Barcelona (where Pirates de Barcelona operates).

On the day after the strike, Francisco was arrested in his own house by the Mossos d’Esquadra (troopers of police force in Catalonia). The police investigation was conducted by Judge Carmen Garcia Martinez, known in relation to Caso 4F (Ciutat Morta). In Caso 4F Carmen decided to jail four innocent citizens (one of them was Patricia Heras, a poet who committed suicide because of that).

The State’s Attorney and  Catalonia’s Government accuse Francisco for masterminding several public disorders during the day of the strike and committing a crime against road safety. For this they demand a fine of 7.700 Euros and four years in prison.

Several grassroots movements and the Pirate Movement has denounced the repression from the Spanish Government towards social movements and workers. The new gag laws (who are contrary to democracy, human rights and political freedoms) brought Spain to the attention of international organizations (e.g. the UN, European Union – Human Right Secretary, Amnesty International etc.). On the Order of the Pirate Unicorn Podcast 007 this issue was discussed further

Social movements and the Pirates demand the full acquittal of Francisco Garrobo, from all the charges brought upon him. They also denounce the repression of social movements and workers and demand their cease immediately.

Francisco’s case is absurd, but it also shows what is happening to activists in Spain and Catalonia. We know that in Barcelona and in Madrid, police and government keep lists of activists and spy on these people. Spain has a democracy based on a former dictatorship where several of Spain’s judges came from. A democracy must be of the people, by the people and for the people.


Photo: CC BY David Castro