The Spanish state declares war on culture

2 min
Pablo Hasél at the time of his arrest

The arrest of Pablo Hasél in the early hours of the morning is not only the news of the day. It marks a point of no return in the drift of the Spanish state in its selective attack on rights and freedoms. The case of Pablo Hasél is not the first step in this direction. The case of Josep Miquel Arenas, Valtònyc, exiled in Belgium, is a significant precedent in terms of the Spanish justice system's contempt for freedom of expression, ideological freedom and artistic freedom. Today we can say that the state that leads since 2019 the list of countries in the world with more artists who are repressed, condemned and imprisoned, according to the report of the international organization Free Muse, takes a step forward towards ignominy.

From the music sector, and as a consequence from the whole cultural world, we have to understand the imprisonment of the singer from Lleida as a threat and a warning to the rest of creators. It is not only his freedom that is penalized. He is just the scapegoat that has to be used to silence us. And silent culture is just an old-fashioned vase on the table showing off some wilted flowers in rotten water. With the arrest of Hasél the Spanish state has declared war on culture and we are sure that all the creativity of the sector will turn against them. If culture cannot be critical and cannot challenge us in the face of the abuses of power, then it is nothing.

We must now use all the tools at our disposal to resolve this injustice. The annulment of his case has a long way to go before the European courts, and the amnesty depends on two thirds of an insufficient Spanish Parliament. The legal keys seem to be the reform of the Penal Code and, therefore, of the legal framework that has made it possible for a singer to go to prison for his songs and statements. Another way is a pardon, which Pablo Hasél himself has already said he will not ask for because to do so would be to accept his guilt, but which could serve to vindicate his innocence and the violation of his rights, in the event that it is granted and that he decides to reject it. The mobilisations are spreading throughout the country, and we also trust in the response and the denunciation of the cultural world at the international level.

With Hasél's imprisonment, the Spanish state has destroyed what little democratic credibility it had left.

Gerard Quintana is a musician and president of the Acadèmia de la Música