The parliamentary vote of Catalonia’s new president, Quim Torra, has overshadowed at least one other important story: the confirmation of Valtonyc’s prison sentence after Spain’s Constitutional Court dismissed the last appeal lodged by the singer’s legal counsel. Josep Miquel Arenas, the rap singer better known as Valtonyc, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for the crimes of glorification of terrorism, slander, insults and threats against the Crown. The verdict was handed down by Madrid’s Audiencia Nacional and confirmed by the Supreme Court.
Since it is so difficult to be recognised as a political prisoner —many have denied that status to Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart and the other Catalan leaders who were jailed precisely for attempting political action—, at least we should agree that Valtonyc is a prisoner of the State. Indeed, it is the highest powers of the State’s judiciary that are sending him to prison —with the warm approval of the executive branch, the Spanish legislature and most of the political elite— for having allegedly slandered and threatened another State power, the Crown. All in all, all the powers of the State have come together to repress and punish a single citizen over a few songs with explicit lyrics. By the way, anyone who feels the urge to crack a little joke about Valtonyc’s problem being his lack of musical talent should be reminded that Alejandro Sanz and David Bisbal (1) are even less talented and, obviously, there is no need to throw them in jail.
Now Valtonyc is a convict who has been denied the chance to avoid entering prison, while others with a prison sentence (such as Iñaki Urdangarin, Rodrigo Rato and the fascists who attacked the Blanquerna bookshop in Madrid) are walking around as free men. The former stole public funds and the latter are well-known far-right militants who committed a hateful, politically-motivated aggravated assault. In contrast, Valtonyc merely exercised his right to free speech (and I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this was done in poor taste or not). Speaking of injuries against the Crown, it would appear that the non-profit activities of the Instituto Noos led by the aforementioned Urdangarin and his wife, princess Cristina, were more damaging to the Spanish monarchy than the songs of a twenty-four year old rap singer. Spanish rock singer Loquillo can say that he does not give a damn, if Valtonyc goes to jail. Many of us no longer give a damn about the artists, writers and pundits who brag about being politically incorrect only to end up being subservient to authoritarianism.
At any rate, Valtonyc has been found guilty by a State that persecutes and imprisons citizens (politicians, artists and grassroots leaders, it makes no difference) who say stuff that it finds annoying. Naturally, this is a sign of weakness, but in the meantime, it is hard one to endure. In this context, it would be advisable not to forget that all forms of repression are ultimately the same repression because it is being meted by the same people.
(1) Alejandro Sanz and David Bisbal are two rather popular Spanish pop singers.