Ruymán Rodríguez of the Federación Anarquista Gran Canaria faces a fine and imprisonment for the trumped up charge of aggression against police when arrested, held and violently interrogated illegally.
Ruymán Rodríguez’s crime is to be an anarchist, an anarchist whose political engagement is lived daily “in the streets“.
In solidarity, we share a statement from the Federación and a text by Ruymán, “A judgement”.
Statement of support for Ruymán Rodríguez
Federación Anarquista Gran Canaria (03/03/2021)
On the 24th of March, the exemplary democracy of Spain will celebrate a new farce, a trial for another police and judicial set-up that only seeks to hide another case of torture by the State’s security forces. The prosecution is demanding a jail sentence of 1 year and 6 months, in addition to a 770 euro fine, for our comrade Ruymán Rodríguez, for allegedly having kicked a civil guard in the barracks where he was held and tortured after an illegal arrest.
The trial is, suspiciously, part of an aggravated repressive wave that has just seen Pablo Hasél and Elgio convicted for their songs, and multiple detentions during the protests that have been organised as a result of the convictions in several cities of the Spanish State. Faced with increasing inequality, the absence of a future and opportunities, and uncertainty, the State’s response is to arm itself and strike. At the same time, in the Canary Islands, the “most progressive government in history” locks up thousands of migrants in authentic concentration camps under inhuman conditions, violating their rights as human beings, while fascist discourse is reproduced, generating a favorable terrain for its growth and normalisation.
We do not expect anything from a judicial system that will never go against its own agents. And much less when it is an anarchist who is judged. For the prosecution, a clumsy and shabby montage of some civil guards who got scared when our colleague began to vomit blood is enough. They do not care that the detention was illegal: everything is part of the efforts of the State, with the collaboration of some related media, to overthrow the self-managed project of “La Esperanza“, which for 9 years has sheltered more than 200 people and which has been replicated in other parts of the island.
We have uncovered the miseries of the institutions beyond their expectations. We have rehoused more people in the Canary Islands than the public administrations put together and we have politicised and organised “that rabble and that riff raff”, as the civil guards called them while they tortured our comrade. That is why, in their clumsiness and ignorance, they prosecute our comrade; because they believe that once beheaded, the serpent will die. What they don’t understand is that the FAGC and IACS do not work with leaders. It does not enter their square heads of hierarchical officials that we are the organised response to the need of thousands of people that none of their laws and repressive bodies will be able to appease: the need for life and dignity.
We refuse, however, that our comrade should end up in jail for having literally sacrificed his health and life so that hundreds of families have a roof, so that they can receive health care, so that they can eat. They will have us to deal with. For this reason, the affiliates of the Sindicato de Inquilinas de Gran Canaria [Union of Tenants of Gran Canaria] call on all groups and individuals in the State and throughout the rest of the world to show their solidarity with our partner. Because his fight, like that of so many others who are already in jail, is everyone’s and his destiny can also be everyone’s.
Freedom for Ruymán!! Enough of police repression!!
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.