Spain passes anti-protest, anti-immigrant law

Spain's conservative-led parliament, the Cortes, passed an anti-protest bill on Dec. 11 despite harsh criticism from opposition politicians and activist groups, who say it violates the right to demonstrate, limits freedom of expression, and gives undue power to police. The measure, dubbed the "Ley Mordaza" (Gag Law), limits demonstrations to officially permiited gatherings and imposes heavy fines on unauthorized protesters. It also bans taking photos of police during protest demonstrations. Spain has seen a rising tide of mostly peaceful street protests and strikes against Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's austerity program, which includes harsh cuts to public health and education.

The new law also includes tough anti-immigration measures that will allow border police to summarily expel migrants from Africa who jump the border fences at Spain's increasingly militarized North African enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. The practice, known as "devoluciones en caliente" (hot deportations), allows police to return the migrants to Moroccan territory without screening them to see if they have legtiimate asylum claims.

The new measure is of course evoking memories of the 40-year fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco and the Spanish Civil War that brought him to power. (Reuters, The Guardian, El Universal, Mexico, Dec. 12)

  1. Anarchist scare in Spain

    After a series of raids on suspected anarchist cells in Spain, police have arrested 14 people believed to be "members of a terrorist organisation with anarchist tendencies." Spanish media report the sting was part of a larger investigation into anarchist activity labeled "Operation Pandora." The group is allegedly responsible for placing explosives near ATMs in Barcelona. More than 2,000 supporters marched in Barcelona in support of those arrested on Dec. 16. Activists on Twitter are using the hashtag #YoTambiénSoyAnarquista ("I too am an anarchist") in solidarity with the group. (Al Jazeera)

  2. Anarchists march in Barcelona

    Thousands again took to the streets of Barcelona in support of the arrested anarchists Dec. 27. RT footage shows a few shop windows being smashed, although it admits the march was "mostly peaceful." Seven of the detained are still being held without bail, and TeleSUR says (probably not accurately) that they have been summarily "sentenced." Accounts have been sketchy since the original arrests in Barcelona and Madrid. Spain's El Pais says the seven are in "preventative detention."