"If they are going to judge me for fighting fascism, I plead guilty, in jail I will be the same / If they are going to judge me for solidarity, I plead guilty and they will not sew my lips." That lyric was sung by Pablo Hásel exactly two years ago, on February 23, 2019, on the Tienditas bridge that separates Venezuela from Colombia regarding the concert Para la guerra nada, which was attended by artists from various countries to express solidarity with the country in back to the right-wing event Venezuela Live Aid.
Today, it is the Catalan urban composer and artist who receives solidarity from the whole world. Last Wednesday he was imprisoned on charges of incitement to terrorism and insults against the crown for a good handful of twits and letters in which he complains in an incendiary tone of his country and its authorities. His trial and imprisonment has transcended the rap scene and sparked an intense debate about respect for freedom of expression in Spain.
So he is a political prisoner for those who defend him, although those who accuse him consider him just a vandal. Let's review the history of this controversial character.
Pablo Hásel, poet
If the words "Pablo Hásel" are typed in Google, the intelligent search engine, before finishing writing, immediately completes the sentence as "Pablo Hásel, poet". Indeed, although he is known as a rapper, he defines himself as a cultist of the word from a much broader look and action.
His Christian name is Pablo Rivadulla Duró. He is 32 years old. He was born in Lérida, Catalonia, Spain, in 1988, and has a sister. He calls himself a communist, anti-fascist, and an animal lover. He has a girlfriend whose face is never seen on his social networks, and he loves the sea and the croquettes that his mother makes.
If we take for granted what the Spanish press affirms, his closeness to the left does not exactly come from his family (or at least not from the most famous part). His father was a well-known Catalan businessman who became president of the Unión Esportiva Lleida team from 2007 to 2010, after which he had problems with the law for financial matters.
And his paternal grandfather was a high-ranking officer in Franco's time, in fact, one of the most notorious in the fighting between Franco's army and the “maquis” (anti-Franco resistance guerrillas) in October 1944 in the Aran Valley. .
In 2005 Pablo Hásel broke into the underground rap scene in Catalonia. His stage name is a reference to an Arabic story he read as a teenager where there was a character called "Hasél" with whom he identified. Today, why he assumed the nickname as an identity sounds like an omen peppered with black humor.
“There was a character, a guerrilla who executed a monarchy. I don't remember the full name, but one part was Hasél. I kept it, ”the rapper told the Periódico de Catalunya.
In interviews, he says that he approached poetry first, but it was the telluric power of rap where he felt freer to express the political lyrics he wrote. He told her in another interview available on YouTube that, unlike plain poetry, rap allowed him to "spit out words."
Since then, he has been as prolific as he is controversial. He has edited several dozen albums, all of which can be freely downloaded on the internet, he has also published several collections of poems that can be found on the internet, and all this creative production is dedicated to the political art that marks his narrative; This has earned him constant scrutiny of the law and a few visits to the courts.
It is offensive, it likes to make you uncomfortable. Your book Twenty hate poems and two dismembered hearts, written in four hands together with Aitor Cuervo, says in its first pages as a warning to the reader: “Autumn 2011. Edited in Sirte by the Gadafista resistance. Produced by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez. Distributed by the North Korean Intelligence Agency ”.
He reproaches Spain for the very existence of the monarchy, but also for the political class to which it belongs; It denounces police abuses, crimes against migrants, the participation (by action or omission) of Spain in wars, the advance of capitalism, and generally rants about resistance and revolution. He says it with a verb of fire, but affirms that it is not even about his opinions, but that they are accounts of objective facts, that are in view and that are public and notorious.
From 9 months to 20 years
With his fist raised and shouting "death to the fascist state", Pablo Hasél was captured this week at the University of Lleira, where he had barricaded himself with a dozen friends, after he was sentenced to 9 months in prison and the time in which he had to report to the police voluntarily ran out.
It is the corollary of a long legal process that took several years. Specifically, Hasél was followed by a process in which he was accused of "exalting terrorism." The sentence is based on an anti-terrorist law approved in 2015 under the government of Mariano Rajoy, despite international criticism. The regulation was baptized in the street as "gag law."
Hasél's tweets and lyrics that caused discord call the Spanish monarchy "Band of thieves." They say things like "Death penalty to pathetic Infants, for spending our money on cosmetic operations"; or "In my public school there was violence and it was not ETA but portraits of the monarchy on the blackboard"; or “The police kill 15 immigrants and they are holy ones. The people defend themselves from their brutality and we are violent, terrorists, rabble, etc ”; or "Thousands of old people suffering cold and without a safe roof while monarchs give lessons from palaces."
In another interview published on YouTube, Hasél assures that although that says the sentence for which he is now being captured, they are not waiting for nine months in prison, and that the time could be extended to 20 years, because he will not pay the a fine of 30 thousand euros that was imposed on him since there is more jail time that has accumulated in the past and that could accumulate in the future for other causes that he maintains open.
Although Hasél is (or was) far from being a really famous person in Spain beyond a very segmented public, his imprisonment has caused days of riots in the most important cities of the country and solidarity manifests of various origins.
The United We Can party, led by the vice president of Spain Pablo Iglesias, filed a petition for pardon in the courts, and more than 200 artists from the Iberian country, including Pedro Almodóvar, Javier Bardem and Joan Manuel Serrat, signed a manifesto in which it was asked to expel from the Penal Code "crimes that do nothing but curtail the right, not only of freedom of expression, but of ideological and artistic freedom."
The Government, for its part, responded that they will carry out “a review of crimes related to excesses in the exercise of freedom of expression”, with the aim of imposing “dissuasive” penalties and not jail time. The pressure, dropwise, has given partial results because the government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, acknowledged that there was no "proportionality" in Hasél's conviction, however, the latest news only reports that accusations have been added to the cause .
Amnesty International considered the trial against Hasél “unfair, excessive and disproportionate” to use the occasion to launch a campaign to demand the reform of the Spanish Penal Code, since it considers that some of its articles violate the right to freedom of expression.
Friend from Venezuela
Beyond Spain, Hasél has awakened the solidarity of the world with which he has been in solidarity. Venezuela, for example. Here, even President Nicolás Maduro has raised his voice to demand the violated rights of the singer-songwriter.
Hasél has been a historical friend of the Bolivarian Revolution, to which he has dedicated dozens of lyrics. He has collaborated with Venezuelan rappers and has visited the country to participate in political activities.
“In the Spanish state, 14 rappers have already been sentenced to prison. I always say, can you imagine it was in Venezuela where dozens of artists were imprisoned? what would happen? would appear in the news around the world saying that Venezuela, as they already say, is a terrible dictatorship. But as happens in Spain, the imperialist media silences that they are jailing us for making songs. They also sentence us to prison for telling the truth and telling what the Spanish fascist monarchy is doing, which is supporting the coup here in Venezuela, ”Hasél said on stage during that concert in Tienditas.
For now, Hasél stoically assumes his imprisonment, and as he has stated, he will appeal to European courts to request a review of the case, not as a way to save himself from prison but to "continue to discredit the Spanish State."
In one of his last interviews in freedom, he pointed out: “When people tell me sometimes 'it is that sometimes you spend a bit', I always answer them that I am very short, and that in fact they should be grateful that we vent with words ”.