MEPs rally to support leading Spanish politicians in the wake of death threats

Several senior political figures in Spain have been targeted in recent days, including former MEP Pablo Iglesias, along with María Gámez, Reyes Maroto and Fernando Grande-Marlaska.
Photo credit: The Left group in EU Parliament/Quentin Vanbergen

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

29 Apr 2021

Earlier this week, former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero also received a letter containing two bullets and a note that said, “Zapa, harmful, dull, ignorant vermin that did and continues to do so much damage to Spain. I hope your meninges burst through your eyebrows.”

The threats coincide with a bitterly fought campaign for the Madrid regional elections on 4 May.

On Wednesday, MEPs organised a demonstration outside Parliament to protest at the incidents. The mostly Spanish members displayed banners with the slogans “Democracy or Fascism” and “Votes against bullets”, to show what they called “solidarity with those targeted.”

One of the organisers told this side, “The aim was to send a strong message against those who spread hate and violence.”

Iglesias, a candidate for the presidency of the Comunidad de Madrid, was formerly an MEP in The Left group and was, until recently, deputy Prime Minister in Spain's coalition government. He also received threats against his family.

Other Spanish leaders have also been targeted, including María Gámez, head of the Civil Guard, and Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, of the Socialist Party (PSOE).

Reyes Maroto, the Minister of Industry and Tourism, received an envelope with a bloody knife in it.

“Throughout Europe, such fascist threats must be vigorously countered and resisted, as does the unacceptable ‘mainstream’ hate speech that lies behind it. Spanish authorities must launch a full investigation and ensure all citizens are protected from such brutality” Martin Schirdewan, co-chair, The Left

Iglesias is secretary general of Podemos, the Spanish political party, and a candidate in the upcoming Madrid regional election.

Left-wing MEPs involved in the demo on the concourse outside the European Parliament included María Eugenia Rodríguez Palop, Sira Rego, Idoia Villanueva, Manu Pineda, Miguel Urban and Ernest Urtasun from the Greens.

Estefania Sanchez, of The Left’s Spanish delegation in Parliament, said the attacks come “in the middle of a tumultuous campaign” in Spain.

A spokesman for The Left told this site, “The Left in the European Parliament absolutely deplore the death threats made against the secretary general of Podemos and several public figures in Spain.”

He said that Iglesias received a letter threatening him and his family, in an envelope containing four bullets.

Iglesias was elected to Parliament in the 2014 elections as the leading candidate of the newly created Podemos party. On 15 March, he announced that he would be stepping down from the Spanish government to run in May’s regional elections.

The spokesman for The Left said, “As anti-fascists we stand firm against this violence and political hate speech that fuels it.”

“I support Pablo Iglesias, a victim of death threats against him and his family after months of harassment by the extreme right. We will not give up an inch in the face of this intimidation” Manon Aubry, co-chair, The Left

MEPs have also spoken out against the attack, including Spanish The Left member Miguel Urban, who said, “In the face of fascist attacks and threats, I want to show all solidarity with Pablo Iglesias. It is essential that we take seriously the threat of far-right terrorism and the hate speech that fuels it.”

Greek The Left member Dimitrios Papadimoulis said, “I express my full solidarity and support to my friend Pablo Iglesias.”

The Left co-chair Manon Aubry described the incidents as “worrisome” that “reflect a resurgence” of the Far Right “all over Europe.”

She said, “I support Pablo Iglesias, a victim of death threats against him and his family after months of harassment by the extreme right. We will not give up an inch in the face of this intimidation.”

A statement by fellow co-chair Martin Schirdewan said, “Yet again, the shocking tactics of far-right terrorists have been put on horrific display.”

“As democrats, as anti-fascists, we stand firm against this violence and the political hate speech that fuels it. Pablo Iglesias has our full solidarity.”

“Throughout Europe, such fascist threats must be vigorously countered and resisted, as does the unacceptable ‘mainstream’ hate speech that lies behind it. Spanish authorities must launch a full investigation and ensure all citizens are protected from such brutality.”

“We call upon all other groups in the European Parliament to show solidarity in the face of this serious incident and demand increased political reflection on the white-washing of hate speech.”

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