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Gallizo (in English)

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Carta Pública

Translated from "Gallizo" published in Spanish in the newspaper GARA in 2004-12-30

Last December 14th, Ms. Margarita Uria addressed the Prime Minister in the Commission Investigating the 11-M to ask him, among other things, for certain penal questions. After a preamble of blushing praises to Ms. Mercedes Gallizo, the commisioner asked Zapatero only about the filtration to the press of certain images and a letter to the mass-media.

Ms. Margarita didn't questioned about torture and mistreatment. Neither did she asked about inmates' death and illness. She didn't displey any interest on isolation and uncommunication measures. Or for accidents suffered. And least of all did she ask for the dispersion policy. Maybe because she could have received the answer that its main promoter was her own political party. A PNV (Basque Nationalist Party) legitimating repression and the most cruel penal policy, not anly in its theoretical design and cover its being carrying out, but as a main actor with its own advisors in the Penal Instituitions department.

Neither Ms. Margarita Uria nor any of the MP's brandishing human rights as their banner had the least thought of showing any interest on the sexual abuse suffered by some of the detainees in the last round ups. About this, Ms. Uria doesn't have any interest, neither as MP, nor even as a woman.

And she doesn't care because she knows that being arrested as an alleged ETA member - with the attending media coverage - is reason enough to be deprived of any right, even that of not being tortured. Old fashioned hypocrisy used to say: "he who steals from a thief, has a hundred years of relief". The new referents of the citizenry say: "making violence to the aggressed one is not double violence, is justice and silence". But this we all now. Including the commissioner who praises Ms. Gallizo.

And amongst so many praises in between decent people (unlike me, who are Basque and red, besides practicing so many "isms") I wondered whether I was wrong. Be positive, Iñaki! I told to myself. I imagined the concrete walls were made of chocolate and the Iron bits made out of cotton candy. I imagined the three inmates dead last night in the prisons of Langraiz and Zuera were marzipan dolls. But, curiously enough, I couldn't imagine Ms. Gallizo being any other thing than what she actually is, as they predecessors were before her.

When the PSOE won last general elections, whether out of candour or necessity, certain expectations were raised amongst those who are not prone to create them. Such illusions, time generally proofs false. The same happened when Ms. Gallizo was appointed as general director of Penitentiary Institutions. Even, in principle, the numerous changes in the direction of the different prisons could be taken as a prelude to more significant changes, knowing the list of names of the appointed persons reassured my conviction of the only horizon of justice in prisons being the abolition of its walls. A hope far more realist, as utopian as it could like, and without any hint of hypocrisy, than pretending that concrete and iron enclose human rights instead of violence and suffering.

In this prison of Algeciras, Ms. Gallizo deposed its director Miguel Ángel Rodriguez AKA "swordeater". An enlightened professional who reacted instantly when hearing the name of a Basque political prisoner, fluently elaborating an elaborated discourse: "judicial resolutions concerning ETA members I pass through my bollocks". Quite an old acquaintance of the collective of Basque prisoners who has not been deposed for accumulating mountains of complaints and irregularities. He hasn't been deposed even on account of a triffle such as, presumably, putting his hand in the money box in Puerto II prison (on account of which a dossier was opened against him). He has been deposed for not belonging to the same political party as Ms. Gallizo. Now, that's it!

I put TV. They're informing about the cinema festival at Huelva. Together with the actor Imanol Arias, honouring him, almost salivating around him, I think to recognise a face of unpleasant memories. He's got white hair and looks like very old, although it is not because of a disturbing conscience I guess. This must be the punishment of excesses. I feel the stupid consolation of noticing that, in this case, the torturer has worse looks than the tortured. Ther is no doubt. This face is engraved on our memories through mistreatment and hunger. It is Francsico Sanz, sub-director at Malaga prison. Director of Salto del Negro, Puerto II, and now of the Huelva prison. There he has arranged an award to be given by prisoners during the cinema festival. That's why he salivates around Imanol Arias. First thing to come to my mind in front of such an image is this: has the actor noticed the furrow of the truncheon and the humidity of blood when shaking hands? No change of director in Huelva prison, it seems.



The list of new appointments is long. Up to 21 names, and 10 more counting changes of destination. Some of the surnames make me search in my memory. It was the year 1977, I guess, because the only archive I count on, my brain is no hard disk. Anyway, it was during the years following Franco's death when society was full of illusion and the political parties were conspiring to destroy it. I walked throgh Madrid one of those many days of demonstrations asking for amnesty and freedom. I left behind the Major Street. I walked up the Bookshops street. And by the disappeared Darde Hotel, I found a group of youngsters like me, who ran down the street crying out: "they've shot"! More curious than cautious I went down the end of the street. Took the right, via La Estrella, and a few meters away, a young man lied on the floor, dead in a pool of blood. It was full policemen and apparently the ones who shot were Argentinians of the AAA. What does it matter! It was one those acronyms (all of them hide the same thing) that re-appear when they find it convenient.

The dead young man was called Arturo Ruiz. He had a brother who started being a left-winger and ended up being a member of PSOE, and becoming a jailer. A trusted servant, so much that his office was used during the night to celebrate secret conversations between Govt. representatives and representatives of an armed revolutionary organization which is NOT ETA. One of those negotiations that never exist, and if they do, are denied. Arturo Ruiz died in a day of fight for amnesty and freedom. His brother lives to curtail it. And lives quite well as the new directr of Sevilla II prison.

Jesús Eladio del Rey Reguillo, AKA "the Thin one", appointed new director of Valdemoro prison. First thing to come to my mind is the riot at Herrera de la Mancha, module one, in the year 1988. Out of little more than 40 Basque political prisoners the half of us passed through the infirmary, and five mates ended up in hospital with broken bones. A bizarre image, that of the Thin One, mountain knife in hand, leading a well nurtured group of jailers and Civil Guards (1), going through the galleries of the module, cell by cell, indicating who was to receive a simple or double session of beating.

Manuel Martínez Cano, AKA Mr. Lips, newly appointed director of Jaen prison. Instigator, and the inciter of the said riot. The only pleasant memory he's left on a prisoner is that he was seen utterly frightened and covered in white powder from a fire extinguisher during that very riot.

Antonio Diego Amrtín, appointed director of Puerto II and processed for torture and unnecessary rigour in Sevilla II prison. He was tried together with the former general director of Penitenciary Institutions, Antonio Asunción, and was never severed from his repressing job, that he has exercised up to now in the Melilla prison. The inmates fettered for weeks to their beds, the torture sesions, naked and covered in water, the laments and cries, didn't earn him one single day of being put apart from his post. On the contrary they deserve a promotion at the arrival of Ms. Gallizo.

To what avail going on with the list? I got convinced. The new prisons policy of the new government of Mr. Rodriguez Zapatero consists in recovering and promoting the characters who have left the saddest of memories amongst prisoners in general, and to the collective of Basque political prisoners in particular. Or keeping at their posts the ones fulfilling the said requirements.

Expectations are fulfilled. Or maybe I'm wrong and the torturers are capable of fighting torture. It cannot be for lack of experience. And in this case even I could imagine Ms. Gallizo otherwise than the way she is.



1. (N of trans) This is the funny name the military police has in Spain.



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