Spain: Free Alfon!
By John Catalinotto
January 8, 2013
There are times when an individual framed, beaten and jailed by the police
is just a victim. There are other times when that person becomes a symbol of
struggle for an entire movement.
This is exactly what is happening in Spain today, which is wracked by 25
percent unemployment, 50 percent among youth..
The person in the spotlight is a 21-year-old fighter from the working-class
Vallekas neighborhood of southern Madrid named Alfonso Fernández Ortega.
“Free Alfon!” has become the cry in the workers’ movement and
among the indignant youth rebelling against their missing future and the
austerity program a rightist government is shoving down their throats.
Police arrested Fernández Ortega on Nov. 14, the day of a general
strike across southern Europe, as they did dozens of others. But seven weeks
after his arrest, he is still in prison. He is the only one still held for his
participation in this job action. Without evidence tying him to any weapons,
the Spanish state is handling Fernández Ortega with rules aimed at
“dangerous criminals” or “terrorists.”
The central government in Madrid has systematically enforced police-state
repression against the Basque Country, in the northeast region, where the
people have been struggling for self-determination against Spanish imperialism.
Now the repression is being applied in more parts of the Spanish state.
Ángeles Maestro, leader of the Red Roja organization, wrote on Jan. 1,
“What once fell almost exclusively on the Basque people is now reaching
the backs of other peoples of the Spanish state. … Those suffering it are
those who stand up against the widespread ruling-class plunder of the working
class using the pretext of the economic crisis.”
Perhaps because it was easy to identify with Alfon, perhaps because his
mother, Elena Ortega, is herself a worker and fighter and has been campaigning
for his freedom; whatever the reason, the progressive movement is supporting
the struggle to free Alfon. On Dec. 28, there were demonstrations in 30 cities
around Spain and international solidarity actions in London and other European
and Latin American capitals.
Maestro added, “The difference between Alfon’s case and those
that came before is that now a collective, class response is emerging. It is no
coincidence that the epicenter is in Vallekas, the heart of working-class
Madrid.” (redroja.net, Jan. 1)
Maestro wrote of a solidarity concert in the Vallekas neighborhood that drew
nearly 700 people on Dec. 31 and ended with the entire crowd holding hands and
singing revolutionary songs. It was a good sign for the workers’ and
peoples’ struggles in the Spanish state, and a reason too for more
international solidarity to “Free Alfon!”