Looting and riots over the arrest of Spanish rapper Pablo Hasél

Barcelona went through his fifth consecutive night of protests and riots after the catalan rapper Pablo Hansél was arrested on February 16 on charges of « insults and slanders to the monarchy » Y « exaltation of terrorism ». A nine-month prison sentence awaits him. Meanwhile, the streets of the capital of Catalonia are the place of massive protests for his release.

The last of these demonstrations took place on Saturday night. More of five thousand people they concentrated from 19 in the downtown University of Barcelona Square to demand Hasel’s freedom. However, like the protests of the previous days, it was far from being a conflict-free event. It was towards the end of the day that the riots and clashes with the security forces began.

After the demonstration spread to other parts of the city center, violent groups they looted shops and banking entities on Paseo de Gracia and even set fire to the Stock Exchange building. The Guardia Urbana and the Mossos d’Esquadra intervened with armored vehicles and fire hydrant trucks.

According to the official version, the rioters began to burn motorcycles and containers, as well as to set up barricades with construction materials that were found in the area. They also attacked the facade of the emblematic Palau de la Música, the modernist music auditorium declared a World Heritage Site by the Unesco, as denounced by the institution.

The final balance was 35 detainees, 13 of them minors, and eight wounded of different severity. The protests were replicated in different cities of the region, such as Lleida and Terragona, and the rest of the country, such as Madrid, but in none were conflict situations such as those that occurred in Barcelona recorded.

One of the officials of the Catalan government, the Minister of the Interior, Miguel Sàmper, denounced in the Spanish media that during the protests they went beyond what they were « demonstrations with ideological content to acts of pure vandalism « . In addition, he assured that « 90% of the people in Barcelona, Lleida Y Tarragona this Saturday they do not know that there is a sentence against Hasel « .



Who is Pedro Hasél?

Pedro « Hasél » Rivadulla, 33, belongs to the list of the 15 Spanish artists who in recent years were victims of censorship in Spain. However, he will be the first to go to prison for this type of crime since the death of the dictator. Francisco Franco in 1975.

The National Court had given him until Friday, February 8, to voluntarily surrender. However, the artist did not appear and the police began looking for him until they found him on Tuesday at the University in Lleida, where he had barricaded himself with supporters who wanted to prevent him from being arrested.

Six years ago it had become the first rapper in Spain to be convicted for his sayings against the Spanish monarchy and the open claim of armed organizations that opposed Franco’s dictatorial regime, mainly ETA and the Grapo.




However, it was not only the lyrics of his songs that earned him more than four years of jail time and fines. His Twitter account is full of virulent messages against the security forces and the Kings of Spain:« The Bourbon mafioso partying with the Saudi monarchy, among those who finance ISIS everything remains »; “The police sow racism and collect rage. Who is surprised?”;« No Civil Guard paid for the 16 immigrants killed by rubber bullets », are some of the messages he published on the social network.

A precedent occurred two years ago, when the rapper with the pseudonym Valtonyc was sentenced for similar crimes to three and a half years in prison by the Supreme Court of Spain. He managed to flee to Belgium, where Justice rejects the Spanish extradiction requests.

A key moment in the increase in censorship was marked by the previous conservative government Mariano Rajoy, who toughened the laws and promoted a harsh application of the Penal Code to intimidate political dissidents in a context of growing social unrest.

However, today a progressive coalition governs with Pedro Sanchez to the head. Two years ago Sanchez had denounced the conviction against the rapper Valtonyc and had promised to change the laws of the Penal Code that resulted in these types of sentences. Since United we can, one of the government coalitions, announced that they will ask for the artist’s pardon.

People from the intellectual, cultural, artistic and journalistic spheres demonstrated against his detention, with manifestos signed, among others, by the filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar or the singer. Joan Manuel Serrat, while organizations like International Amnesty(AI) considered the incarceration unfair and disproportionate.