Catalan journalist forced into exile after being indicted for ‘terrorism’

On 11 April, La Directa, a left-wing Catalan media outlet, published an interview with journalist Jesús Rodríguez in which he explained that he had gone into exile because of the judicial persecution he is suffering in the hands of the corrupt Spanish regime. His crime? Conducting journalism in a professional manner. On behalf of the Revolutionary Communist Organisation, we express our total rejection of this spurious prosecution and our complete solidarity with comrade Jesús Rodríguez and the other people who have also decided to go into exile.

Spain’s judiciary: a reactionary institution

The totally reactionary character of the Spanish regime is fully in evidence in this prosecution. The case is in the hands of National Court judge Manuel García-Castellón, the personification of Francoism in a gown.

Jesús Rodríguez and another 11 people, Catalan politicians and political activists, have been indicted for “terrorism” in relation to the Tsunami Democrátic. Tsunami Democrátic constituted a series of mass civil disobedience actions (demonstrations, strikes, the occupation of the Barcelona airport, marches) of the working class, the youth and broad layers of the petty bourgeoisie, in the Autumn of 2019 against the scandalous sentences passed by the Supreme Court against those involved in the 2017 Catalan independence referendum.

The truth is that peaceful protest for the democratic right of self-determination and against repression, is considered terrorism by the defenders of Spanish capitalism. To classify those who threaten the interests of the capitalists as terrorists is a formula that the capitalist class has used all over the world, as can be seen in the repression against pro-Palestine activists. But this case goes even further. It is utterly surreal and scandalous.

The case that this reactionary judge is pursuing has nothing to do with ‘justice’, and everything to do with persecuting those who question this corrupt regime, and, in the case of Jesús Rodríguez, those who uncover its dirty laundry. For years, Rodríguez has been uncovering cases of police infiltration in activist circles and groups, revealing the criminal operations of the police and the judges who cover them up.

The Tsunami Democrátic case has to be seen in the political context of recent events in Spain. The PSOE-SUMAR government has recently passed an amnesty law for those who have been persecuted by the state apparatus for participating, one way or another, in the Catalan independence movement. The law has been passed with the support of left and nationalist parties in the Spanish parliament, but with the complete and frenzied opposition of the right wing and sections of the judiciary.

As Rodríguez explains in the interview: “between the spring and the autumn of 2023 there are two relevant events: the electoral defeat of PP and Vox [right-wing parties] and the subsequent passing of the amnesty law. It is precisely at that moment that the judicial case accelerated its pace of repression.”

Coming back to the case, what is Rodríguez accused of? “Of having prior information about the demonstrations [of the Tsunami Democrátic] that took place at the end of 2019”. That is to say, as a journalist, he is being prosecuted for… doing his job! But it doesn’t end there. A large part of the case is based upon the phone-tapping of hundreds of people. In addition to Rodríguez, it includes 26 other journalists, investigated for the same reason – reporting on the mobilisations of the Tsunami Democrátic. Through this massive phone-tapping, the state has accumulated hours and hours of information, “conversations of ideological content, information about intimate life, love affairs or health are included in the transcripts of the Civil Guard [one of the policing bodies of the regime]”.

Equally scandalous has been the response of the central government, with Minister of the Presidency Félix Bolaños simply dismissing the issue by saying that “with the courageous policy of this government, political conflicts are solved through politics”. The ‘most progressive government in the history of Spain’ (as it likes to describe itself) does not even have the courage to defend, even in words, the most fundamental of democratic rights when they are attacked by the regime. But of course, the PSOE leadership and party bureaucracy is a part of the regime, and ultimately defends the interests of Spanish imperialism, so it cannot and will not confront it.

For socialist revolution

As we see, what is at stake is not a trial for potential crimes that might have been committed, but the use of the justice system to repress anyone who questions the regime and the capitalist system that sustains it. It is a frontal attack on democratic rights, starting with the right of self-determination, the right to protest, the right to privacy, as well as the freedom of the press. As the journalist says, it is a case of revenge. This attack on the defendants in the Tsunami Democrátic case is an attack on all those who truly defend democratic rights. As communists, we are at the forefront of this struggle.

But why is García-Castellón so blatantly twisting  capitalist law and its empty formalities? Because the Catalan independence movement in 2017, and the Tsunami Democrátic that followed it in 2019, challenged two fundamental pillars of the 1978 regime in Spain: the unity of Spain guaranteed by the Army and the Monarchy reinstated by Franco. An example has to be made of those who have challenged them, so as to discourage others.

The whole experience of the Catalan pro-independence movement shows that achieving a Catalan republic is a revolutionary task, a task that only the working class can carry through against not only the regime and its state apparatus, but fundamentally against Spanish capitalism. Its character, therefore, is revolutionary and socialist.

The working class, the youth, and the other layers who wish to win independence can only rely on their own forces and class organisations. As this spurious prosecution shows once more, this is a class war, between the oppressors and the oppressed, between the regime and the big bosses on the one hand and the working class and the masses on the other.

Again, all our solidarity goes out to Jesús Rodríguez and the other defendants. In closing, we quote Rodríguez's inspiring words:

“Of course, I will continue to fight, with my head held high and with the certainty of having always done what was appropriate to me in the development of my journalistic work and being faithful to my values and principles.”

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