One day after another since last May 15, groups of people – some days more numerous than others – gather in the vicinity of the house shared in the municipality of Galapagar (Madrid) by the Vice President of the Government Pablo Iglesias, Minister Irene Montero and his three minor children. Sounding pans, whistles or high-powered sound equipment, the concentrates that have been surrounding the security perimeter of the family home for three months express their objective of “not stopping until they leave Spain”, in addition to other insults, they explain sources of Podemos.
Pablo Iglesias: “There is no right that my children have to suffer the consequences of the political tasks of their parents”
Both politicians have tried to put a stop to this situation through the courts, although with little success so far. A judge from Collado Villalba, capital of the mountains of Madrid and head of the judicial party for Galapagar, recently filed the complaint for harassment and coercion that Montero filed against Cristina Gómez, one of the three councilors of Vox in Galapagar and promoter of the concentrations. The magistrate considered that the facts were protected by freedom of expression and that criminal proceedings were not appropriate to analyze them.
Iglesias, for his part, has sued the one he considers to be the instigator of these protests, Miguel Ángel Frontera, to whom he attributes six crimes: coercion, harassment, discovery and revelation of secrets, disobedience, alteration of public order and against natural resources and environment. The vice president’s attorneys still have no record of whether or not that complaint has been admitted for processing. In addition, the Civil Guard filed another complaint against Frontera, who was arrested on June 12 for alleged crimes against privacy, the right to one’s image and the inviolability of the home and discovery and disclosure of secrets for recording the facade of the home.
Training sources assure that days after that arrest, Frontera returned to the vicinity of the house of the vice president and the minister, where he usually appears with his car loaded with Spanish flags, pans and posters where you can read “Pablo Iglesias, son of terrorist ”and from where he plays the ‘Cara al sol’, a hymn of the Falange. Social networks also collect images of these concentrations in front of the home security perimeter, guarded 24 hours a day by the National Police.
This harassment was transferred last week to the Asturian council of Lena, where Iglesias, Montero and their children were spending a few days off at the home of Enrique Santiago, general secretary of the PCE and deputy of Podemos. After the local press reported that the family was there on vacation, the exact place where they were was published on social media. There, several people who in their environment linked with the extreme right of Vox moved to rebuke them. On the access road to the town the painted “rat pigtails” appeared and a local bar reported having suffered “offensive comments” for having attended them.
The family then decided to return to Madrid. And, on their return, they found “the same as always” in the vicinity of their home, they say in training. “There is no right that my children have to suffer the consequences of the political tasks of their parents”, Iglesias wrote this Tuesday on his Twitter account, where he warned that “threats” from the “extreme right” will not stop his work.
To questions from elDiario.es, Santiago assures that he will inform the Justice of what happened in Asturias, although he considers that since they are public events, both the security forces and the Prosecutor’s Office should act ex officio. “Many officials who should be doing their job have a surprising permissiveness with the extreme right in this country,” says the deputy, for whom Iglesias, Montero and their children are being victims of “a campaign of harassment allowed by security forces and, on all, by the judiciary ”that is“ inspired ”by the extreme right of Vox.
“Permanent and constant harassment”
Iglesias himself qualifies as “permanent and constant harassment” in the complaint that Miguel Ángel Frontera has placed in the situation that they live in his house in Galapagar, whose purchase in 2018 generated a controversy that questioned the “credibility” of both, as the vice-president said then. The couple justified the acquisition of that chalet – bought for 615,000 euros, with a mortgage of 540,000– because they were looking for a place to take care of their children “with privacy”.
That was not exactly what they found. De Iglesias and Montero published images stolen from the ultrasound of their future children and photographs stolen of them walking their dogs in a park and visiting their new home; of which its interior was even known before they moved in. The latest episodes of harassment at his private home have led to an intense debate on the extent to which these protests are covered by freedom of expression, especially since both are public positions, since the European Court of Human Rights has declared that “the limits of the admissible criticism is broader with respect to a practicing politician “.
Judge Marta García Sipols, head of the Court of Instruction and First Instance number 4 of Collado Villalba, rejected Montero’s complaint against the aforementioned Vox councilor, considering that the criminal procedure was not adequate to investigate the matter. Her argument is that from the videos provided by the minister it cannot be deduced that there was “violence” in the conduct of the mayor or that her actions caused a “serious alteration” of the daily life of the Equality holder. “Its content is part of a citizen protest against the government’s management during the state of alarm,” says the magistrate.
According to the order, in his statement before the judge, Montero explained that they had been holding “noisy meetings” outside the security perimeter for eight weeks and that this circumstance had caused him a situation of concern and fear to the point of changing habits, although the The judge assures that when he was asked to specify those situations, his answers were “vague, imprecise and very generic.” The minister, who has appealed the file to the Provincial Court of Madrid, also admitted that there had been no act of violence “neither against her nor against her home,” the court decision states.
The judge does acknowledge in her brief that in the videos provided in the complaint there are “expressions that may be uncomfortable”, as well as the emission of “obviously annoying noises due to their transmission through the saucepans”, although she insists that her “Adequate channel of treatment” is not the criminal procedure, especially when no intimidating phrase is heard.
The Escraches debate
These episodes have also been linked to the support of both leaders to the escraches that activists in favor of the right to housing did to politicians of other formations during the hardest years of the economic crisis.
Escraches are acts of protest on public roads against politicians that, on occasions, can take place in their private homes. This is a figure that is not expressly regulated in the Penal Code and in which the right of assembly and freedom of expression of citizens and the right to privacy, honor and the image of the charges are put in collision public. In 2014, the Provincial Court of Madrid ruled that the escrache that the then vice president Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría (PP) had suffered at her home constituted “An ordinary mechanism for the democratic participation of civil society” and it was “expression of the pluralism of citizens.” That protest took place during a few hours in the afternoon of April 5, 2013.
In Podemos they consider that what is happening in the vicinity of Iglesias and Montero’s house is not an escrache, but a situation of “continuous harassment.” This was pointed out by the minister herself in an interview in infoFree: “What is happening at the doors of my house is something else. The escraches are specific mobilizations that are endorsed by the judiciary of our country as a form of legitimate protest. It can be unpleasant, it can deserve social censure, but it is legitimate, ”he said. Enrique Santiago also categorically denies that what is happening with the vice president and the minister is an escrache. “There is no political claim behind it, it is only hate inspired by the extreme right of Vox,” he says.
On May 18, a dozen people gathered with pans at the door of the house of the Minister of Transport, José Luis Ábalos, within the framework of the caceroladas against the Government for the management of the pandemic. So, despite the fact that it was a specific act, the spokesperson for United We Can in Congress, Pablo Echenique, criticized the protest. “One thing is the right to demonstrate and quite another is that far-right fake journalists send rude and aggressive posh to intimidate and harass your wife and daughter. What I do not understand is why the authorities do not act,” she wrote in her twitter account.