Letters from prison

Letter to J.Cuixart: ‘Txell’s scarf’ by David Fernàndez (12.30.17)

By Saturday December 30th, 2017 No Comments

 There are things enclosed within the walls

that, if they suddenly got out and shouted,

they would fill the world

Federico García Lorca


The year is ending and, with equal parts of regret and hope, it’s time to write that 2017 will not yet be the year of your freedom, Sanchez, Forn, Junqueras, ours, nobody’s.  Nor will it be, very unfortunately, the year of the return of those who have had to leave.

In the meantime – always the meantime, the only place from where things get shaken – we need to write and claim, standing up, that we continue to do everything possible – and whatever impossible we need to do – to get you out in the first stages of 2018, that will start tomorrow. To the gray accountant of robbed time, 75 days of kidnapping and exile. In the aporia of the hiatus, and the evidence of an injustice that we will never get used to, because it would be, embarrassingly, as much as normalizing it.

Before I forget, thank you, once again for another letter from the cell. I never know where to start responding. Everything accumulates against the grid, the wired and the peephole. In between, letters, words, and stamps. Common antagonism after the Dia dels Innocents (equivalent to April Fool’s Day): they have the envelopes of corruption, and we only have those of solidarity. Epistles come and go, drilling the wall and the rock. A letter, one more, of so many that intersect, this winter, from all over the country to Estremera and Soto del Real. New names for many, incorporated into Catalan political geography: politics made prison and prison as a political weapon. The doctrine of shock and inquisitorial metaphor: that is how they want us, silent and in a cage. But not even with this they succeed, society has responded, again, in an overflowing, viral yellow, with the greatest anti-repression demonstrations since the end of the dictatorship. Raimon revisited: “We have seen prisoners full of reason hushed”. Ovidi cried out Papasseit: “There is a man in prison, one of those men who advanced.”

And yes, these days everything comes back: memories, hopes. Each one of the shared struggles that have made the country we are building. So much has been done in such a short time, and it has been done for years from margins and tangents, and there is still a lot to be done. Rear-view mirror, long look, and a continuous tightrope whispering that everything happens to never fail. And yes, you say it so well: we’ve never asked ourselves for anything and, instead, we have given ourselves everything. We did not know each other then, and it was as if we had known each other always: because we recognize ourselves in every inch of the country we want. Free of poverty, inequalities, and social exclusion. That is why I became one more in Omnium, in the midst of Lluites compartides (Shared struggles). One among so many, when we are about to reach 100,000 members. That’s our answer: being more every day. They want us isolated and they will find us more united than ever.

All in all, country-mirror and state-prison, when we are faced with the greatest procedure of political criminal law, the exception made law, against the democratic reason for Catalan political freedom. It is like this: we want ballot boxes to decide between us and they put us in prisons where only they decide. Many years ago, the philosopher Giorgio Agamben warned that the exception had become government. And Kafka wrote that the process is the punishment in itself. In 2009, August Gil Matamala already warned of dystopia: “They will end up inventing the figure of the peaceful terrorist.” Another African-American prisoner on death row clinched the argument: “It is said that resisting the system is crazy but, given what we have seen, what is madness is not to do so.”

In the midst of impunity, I remember – thankfully – the day you came to trial for death threats from the extreme right wing. In the first and second instance, the judges – despite verifying the threats, and the extreme violent right-wing affiliation of the person who made them – said that they fit in political criticism, and were protected by freedom of speech. In the court hearing, do you remember? He wanted to justify himself: “because he is pro-independence”. State carte blanche and double standard, you already know. And meanwhile, we, increasingly aware and rooted in the learning of the school of peaceful and non-violent civil disobedience, the most humane and humanistic form of combat and resistance.

I have always been surprised – for many years now – that those who are inside the prison walls transmit, to those in the outside, all the firmness, serenity and courage to continue. You know? Going over dates on the calendar, the first time I entered a prison was, exactly, on December 31st, 1994. In 1992 I visited Joan Rocamora, a pro-independence inmate, in the Brians prison. That night, TV3 transmitted the New Year’s Eve midnight clock chimes from Vila de Gràcia: a group of young people planted a huge banner that read “Freedom prisoners.

It’s been 23 years since then, we are again demanding the release of the prisoners, and I could remember with my eyes closed the silence, noise, and searches of that first visit. Routines of punishment and control, thick glass and an unstoppable force of solidarity. Later, the universal prison literature – Wilde, Gramsci, Luxembourg, Roque Dalton, Sands, Mandela, Miguel Hernández – helped us understand. “We need your freedom to know that freedom is still possible,” Sarrionandia put it into poems from exile. It’s like this. That’s where we are.

There is a History’s counterhistory. And it’s in the prisons. In fact, we are all in the panopticon, and the whole country, is on probation, under controlled monitoring, and on apparent bail. As always, in a hidden dictatorship and in a false democracy, another way of evaluating a regime is to consider who is imprisoning you: that you are one of the hostages, says it all. A good man who reminds me of the good in Xavier Vinader – what would he think today of all this? And how he would urge us to oppose it: when he was imprisoned in Carabanchel in 1984 to try to silence him, he dedicated the whole three months of confinement to complete a detailed report on the poor and deplorable state of the prisons.To finish, Anna, August, and Maribel send you lots of kisses, sheltered in the memory of the future that will come. My mother too: more than outraged, revolted.

I have called the grandparents in Zamora: they are very sad to now, that we have political prisoners again. But, you know? Your scarf from Txell is like Estellés’ paper rose. We all have one, a scarf, a bow, or a banner on the balcony. All of us outcry-freedom political prisoners- a permanent, untiring and invincible claim. Their police no longer know how to control it, their judges cannot imprison it and their merchants do not have enough money to buy it. They can’t imprison dignity. We are here because you are there. Until we bring you back home. I love you.


Letter published in Diari ARA, Saturday, December 30th, 2017 (in Catalan)