Spanish Inquisition

David Fernàndez

The title isn’t mine. It comes from a ways back, and it’s lasted far too long. It’s from the documentary (my homage and recognition) by an Australian journalist, David O’Shea, who in 2004 tried to take on the taboo of the survival of torture and abuse by the police in Spain. In January of 2001, Aznar1 had pardoned fifteen Civil Guards and police officers who had been condemned for degrading the human condition. O’Shea decided to have a look at their impunity. He couldn’t quite believe the persistent annual reports on the violation of human rights that we would send him. In addition, that year, with Rajoy as a minister, the State had sent a pardoned torturer to represent Spain before the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture; they couldn’t deny he had plenty of certified experience. While interviewing the Secretary of the Interior, the socialist Antonio Camacho, O’Shea caught him shamefully denying torture. If there’s no torture, why are there pardons for torturers? The hand of the state then covered his camera, scolding inquisitorially: “turn that off, come on, cut”. Standing up to the law of silence, the journalist had the dignity to include that in the documentary.

Spanish Inquisition. The title isn’t ours. Each day, it’s spit out by a painful reality. Because in the authoritarian and repressive tradition, there’s nothing more Spanish than the howls and the clawing of the Inquisition. Brutal in its shamelessness, extreme in its wretchedness, and severe in its arbitrariness. Inquisition Reloaded. An old watchword, updated by a performing, postmodern power: let the bonfire burn some more, much more and much higher. Here and today, that baneful culture of fear –the perverse strategy of punishment and the sinister tactic of instilling dread– is applied first, against the democratic reason of Catalan political liberty, to abuse and repress the popular desire for social and political change. But then, it immediately strikes out against anything that moves from its blueprint-prison (a still, black-and-white image ordered by the power): journalists, professors, comedians or rappers. Puppeteers, dissidents or fighters. It’s the use of the rod, even with a carrot at one end.

Spanish Inquisition. The title –quite old– is theirs. It’s what’s boasted by the prison regime of ’78,2 worshiped on the altar of official impunity. In the end, the Raison d’État just decreed the State Violence on October 1st a State Secret. When the dignity of an entire people on its feet, disobeying the blows and the fear, defeated all the Torquemadas from the turn of the 21st century. Heresy against exceptionalism; for the inquisitors, reality will always be a crime. That’s why we’ll always continue writing and disobeying. Standing up to all the walls. Until State Delinquency, exercised with impunity, is in the past and not the present. And, above all, to prevent it from being the murky dystopia of the future.

David Fernàndez
periodista, activista social i cooperativista. És exdiputat del Parlament de Catalunya i col·labora en diversos mitjans de comunicació.