Back in January I reported on the case of Raúl Capín, an independent Spanish photojournalist who is facing potential jail time after photographing police activity at a major public demonstration in February 2013. The case, which has received little attention outside of Spain (aside from an interview I did with Jeffrey McAndrew for his US-based “News and Notes” podcast), has major implications for the present and future of Spanish democracy at a time when the country continues to witness the impact of the infamous Ley Mordaza (Gag Law) that went into effect in 2015. After police were unable to produce sufficient evidence against Capín in advance of his initial trial date in January, the trial was postponed until February 23, and on that day I returned to the courthouse in Madrid to observe the atmosphere surrounding the trial. In the street outside I spoke with a group of Capín supporters. Later I went inside the courthouse, spoke with some of the people gathered there, and waited until Capín emerged from the courtroom. Finally, I left the building and was able to record some of the photojournalist’s remarks as he was greeted by supporters and members of the media outside.
Spain is routinely referred to as a democratic country, and it does possess many of the attributes typically associated with democracy. At the same time, as I have seen during the past several months of living in Madrid, the country is also home to some profoundly anti-democratic tendencies. For many critics, these tendencies represent not an erosion of a previously democratic reality but rather a confirmation that “La Transición” (Spain’s post-1975 transition from dictatorship to democratic rule) remains fundamentally unfinished. Nowhere is this clearer that in the ongoing attempts by the state to restrict the ability of ordinary citizens to exercise freely their right to protest and to share information about what is happening in their society. In this “Weaving the Streets” post I will share what I observed and learned at a recent protest in support of Raúl Capín, an independent photojournalist who is facing potential jail time after photographing police activity at a major public demonstration in February 2013. The case is intimately connected with a broader series of issues having to do with the criminalization of information and possibility for real democratic transformation in Spain.
Now that the Republicans have shut down Congress, and a ton of questions about the efficacy of the federal government are swirling about, let me add one that I think has not been asked but needs to be: Does republicanism still work for us (Americans) as a form of government?
On January 21st, Steve Peraza in his Poverty Report asked about the “Faith in the Future of America?” I am sure we both agree with Steve on the limitations of Alexis de Tocqueville’s ability to see the whole picture of The United States. Since the state, country, world – all are build from multiple pictures.
Sometimes when you go to classroom you hear or read something new, sometimes you use the time to think and fly away in your mind to some distant locations or to school cafeteria dreaming about consuming the best lunch of your life... but sometimes you hear something that makes you question things you knew before... to ask you WTF...? to make your brain-cells boiled... then you truly learn!
When last week I was choosing the key words for my blog description, I opened the Oxford Dictionary on the word “solidarity” and read that SOLIDARITY is “the fact or quality, on the part of communities, of being perfectly united or at one in some respect, especially in interests, sympathies, or aspirations.” My dictionary search came along with the first anniversary of the Occupy Movement, also known as The Black Monday. And the same week, as usually happens Monday was followed after three days with Friday, which was the first anniversary of the death of Troy Davis, who was executed once the US Supreme Court refused to admit - visible for many - mistakes of the judiciary system that most likely sentenced an innocent person or a person of questionable guilt to death.