Two puppeteers were arrested and charged with glorifying terrorism after staging a show called, “The Witch and Don Cristobal”, as part of Madrid’s carnival celebrations on Saturday. They were released today, but charges have been filed against them. The 2 men have to make daily appearances before the court, and are not allowed to leave the country.
The theater performance, called “La Bruja y Don Cristóbal”, aims to portray the witch-hunt that the anarchist movement has continually suffered throughout the years in Spain. The main character of the play is a witch, who represents people with a poor public image that must face the four powers governing society: property, religion, the strength of the state, and the law. During the course of the story, puppets portray a clash with the police to represent the force of the state. The police hit the witch until she becomes unconscious. After that, police use false statements to incriminate her, placing a banner of “Gora Alka-ETA” on her body, and trying to take a picture as evidence before others arrive at the scene. The fourth figure, who is the Judge, accuses and sentences her to death. The witch manages to deceive the judge, who wraps his head with his own rope and commits suicide. This is the essence of what takes place in the play, and the charges of “glorifying terrorism” is based on the “Gora Alka-ETA banner.
The “Gora Alka-ETA” statement is a satirical allusion to al-Qaeda and ETA, that tries to highlight how the State uses terror as a weapon to gather support. It should be noted that the terrorist group ETA abandoned their armed struggle in 2011, and was dissolved. Furthermore, none of the characters encourage terrorism. The judge that ordered the arrests, Ismael Moreno, was a chief of police for the fascist Franco regime.
On February 6, hundreds of people took the streets of Madrid to demand the release of the two puppeteers. In the days that followed, there were demonstrations across the entire country.
After today’s release of the two men, many people took the streets again, to demand that the Spanish state drops the charges against the puppeteers.