Spanish Artists Face Jail for ‘Subverting the Constitution’

The Colectivo La Insurgencia brings together twelve young people around a microphone. They rap and they do it with rage, with force and with gusto. They rap about their problems and the frustration of a generation with an unclear future. The youngest of them is 20 years old.. Most have never met in person. They hooked up on social media and decided to collectivise their music videos under the same brand: La Insurgencia. They were never famous. Not until now perhaps. Their following was niche and modest having only peer to peer recommendation to spread their word.

Right now (02/11/17) the National Court is threatening each of them with two years and one day in prison, 9 years of disqualification from public office and a fine of €4,800. They are accused of the “crime of glorifying terrorism.”

According to the letter from the public prosecutor José Perals Calleja, the group “almost systematically extols the clandestine breakaway organization from the official Communist Party, the PCE (Reconstructo) and the anti fascist resistance group GRAPO” and the message of its songs “maintains a subversive tone against the constitutional order”.

Young rapper Saul Zaitsev (artist name), is 20 years old and argues that the prosecutor has it quite deliberately wrong. Considering that they have selected isolated phrases from their songs to paint a picture of something violent. He also reminds Público that he has written songs warning young people of the dangers of drug abuse and that his work has been said to have saved the lives of at least some of the troubled youths who attend his own school today. On Thursday (02/11/17) and Friday (03/11/17) this week the National Court will make a decision that will affect every one of these 12 artists for the rest of their lives.

“The Office of the Prosecutor intends to take lines and phrases completely out of context from our songs, as if it were a political speech or a rally. A song has to be understood within the context of the album and within the whole genre.” Certain phrases may sound aggressive, but no one can go to The jail for making songs in bad taste, or so I thought until now, “Saúl explains in a telephone conversation with Público.

In fact, Saúl dmaintains that his music is neither aggressive nor violent.

“You have to get that we sing hip hop, which is a genre that must transmit angst and anger, and I believe that we transmit the frustration and powerlessness that I believe a large part of our generation lives with, with no future prospects, youth unemployment … We let that frustration escape through our music, others do it through graffiti or I do not know,” he continues.

Saúl is facing two years in incarceration for, amongst others, the following lyrics:

– “Since we read the game we have it clear, the word is a weapon, our rap shot, but we know that the fight is in the street brother.”

– “We are not artists, we are fighters, we are not lyricists, we are agitators, we are militants awakening minds”.

“My heroes are not capos, my heroes are GRAPOS”.

– “Happy when you play in the town square Letizia Ortiz (Queen of Spain)”

That the Office of the Prosecutor of the National Court wants to put the La Insurgencia collective behind bars is an “absurdity and immense disproportion” for Saúl. “How are we going to address an act of terrorism that hasn’t happened? What do we exalt?” Asks the 20-year-old, who throws the question into the air about what this State or this country would gain with them inside the prison.

“My music is not a crime and I do not think anyone has been encouraged to commit crimes after listening to me, expresses opinions, with which you can agree or disagree, but which are shared by many here in my neighborhood and in the surrounding areas in which hang around, “says Saul.

The Platform in Defense of Freedom of Information (PDLI) considers that the trial of the twelve rappers of La Insurgencia in the National Court for its lyrics is a…

“new violation of freedom of expression and a violation of this fundamental right, contrary to the international standards to which Spain is subject, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

The issue here is the ‘rule of law’ in Spain and what that really means. As it goes, Spain has form here and there is a reasonable list of those who have been incarcerated for speaking out against the state and the monarchy. Rapper Josef Miquel Arenas from Mallorca is facing 3 years in jail for criticism the former King of Spain Juan Carlos.

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