On Friday the 5th of February the two components from the “Titeres desde abajo” (Puppets from below) company were arrested during their last performance, “La bruja y Don Cristobal” (The Witch and Mr. Cristobal). They have been charged for allegedly praising terrorism. Our Union know these two people: one of them is a member of our organization and the other person is a beloved friend that we have known since many years ago. This is not the first performance from the company “Titeres desde abajo”.

This particular performance, “La bruja y Don Cristobal” premiered recently in Granada, on the 29th of January 2016. Many people including us, attended to both performances and were able to find out about the plot and its background. Their position, which makes sure to be humanitarian, discussing current issues, could clash with other political positions or views. This performance stands up for social harmony, tolerance and respect, and the acceptance of the different. The opposition to these values by some powers is the source of all the confrontations and the storyline of the show.

During the performance that took place on the 5th of February in Madrid, a fraction of the crowd felt very upset during the performance, and far from restrict themselves to an aesthetic or criteria issue, they called the police to report an alleged situation of praising or glorifying terrorism. The police went and arrested the puppeteers, who had already had to stop the performance because of the action from the angry audience. Since then, the puppeteers from the “Titeres desde abajo” company are being held and they are in isolation, uncommunicated.

The press, mass media, being loyal to the easy formula: “shocking news and difficult to verify”, and because of their focus on the morbid fascination of certain politicians from Madrid, have proceeded to publish the complaint just like that, without even trying to corroborate the defendants version of the facts, and therefore giving as if it were the truth to the public, a completely erroneus story about what the performance that we saw in Granada is, and what is it about, and that we trust to back up with documentary evidence soon. In the news content from the mass media the “praising terrorism” was highlighted via one banner that showed the motto “Gora Alka-ETA”, and taking the plot out of context. Likewise, they have talked about murders, raping nuns and judges.

After all this, some clarifications are required, so we must describe truly what the performance is about. In essence, “La Bruja y Don Cristobal” ensures to represent, by using recurrent figures from tales and theatre plays, the “witch hunt” that the Anarchist movement have been suffering in Spain over the past few years with several police set-ups like “Operacion Pandora”. The Witch is the leading role in the performance, she represents all the people with a bad reputation and she finds herself in a situation where she has to confront the four powers that govern society, namely: Property, Religion, the State Force and the Law. The protagonist is at home and her life is interrupted by the appearance of 'the owner' in the first place, who is the legal owner of the house where the witch lives. There are no raped nuns; by the use of the puppets, the adults watch that the owner decides to take advantage of the situation and the adults can figure out that he rapes the witch; during the fight, the witch kills the owner, but she gets pregnant and gives birth to a child. It is then when the second figure shows up, the nun who is representing Religion. The nun wants to take the child with her, but she finds defiance in the witch and in the confrontation the nun dies. It is now when the police, who represents the State force, shows up, the policeman beats the witch until she is unconscious, and then he plots a set-up by placing a banner with the motto “Gora Alka-ETA”, over the witch’s body while trying to keep the banner up to take the picture, and then be able to use it as evidence and charge the witch and prosecute her by the use of the Law. After this set-up has taken place the fourth figure arises, which is the Judge. The Judge charges the witch and sentences her to death on the gallows and then he shows the gallows. The witch is able to trick him and by mistake the judge puts his head through the rope and he is hanged by the witch, in order to save her own life. The story continues a bit more, but this is the essence of the performance and where all the controversy lies.


It can be argued whether the performance is kids friendly (PG**) or not, even for all ages, but it seems unusual that two people have being arrested and put in solitary confinement for a problem related with age rating. Also, besides the type of show, a puppet show, “Títeres desde Abajo” never mentioned their performance was specifically for kids. Furthermore, their own website lists their shows in two categories. One, “Espectáculos Infantiles” is specifically oriented to kids. The second, “Teatro Popular” is meant for all audience. Given that the show “La Bruja y don Cristóbal” is not listed in the former section, no one should accuse "Títeres desde Abajo" of lying in order to attract a specific audience. The fact that this performance uses puppets does not automatically mean that it is kids friendly. The "Rockefeller’s crow" [**] is an example of this. In addition, the synopsis of the show included references to "truncheon" and "freedom". No one can deny that the audience didn't know what the show was about. Obviously, not about terrorism, because there is not terrorism in the show indeed.

In any case, the kids have to see even worse things nowadays. Not only in television, but on the streets. We don't want to discuss about parents who bring their kids to the bullfighting, or to public processions on the streets (which is great!) that have been politicized, in which they teach the children stories about people being crucified, or to the movies to watch Bambi. Said that, we believe it is important to watch the show, even though it might be for adults. Definitely is not as hard as yet another Saw movie, as seems it has been said.


N.T: "Rockefeller’s crow" (El cuervo de Rockefeller) is a reference to an 80's show performed by José Luis Moreno and his puppet, a black crow. The conversation between them included adult content frequently.


However, it is not any glorifying terrorism act/propaganda in the show whatsoever. Which is the reason why they have been arrested and put in solitary confinement. A repressive measure which is in this case extremely paradoxical, because it's exactly what the performance is denouncing. It is still surprising to see how the laws to fight the terrorism can be used efficiently by some well-defined political view, where the prosecutor only needs to say a few words to leave the accused completely helpless. People who confuse the terrorism with what they think is tolerable, both socially and politically. People who rage against Charlie Hebdo's censorships, but don't hesitate to behave as Iberian Talibans. People who defend the children from the political act of denouncing the evictions, while they ignore all the politicized acts inside both education and religion, that are being fed up to the same children. People who claim "It's the law" when a child and his family is left on the streets, homeless. An act, "barely political", they say.


In addition to all of it, the Council of Madrid also wants to sue "Títeres desde Abajo". This reaction, which is essentially political, is no doubt motivated by the necessity of a public response to all the accusations of collaboration with the accused that have been thrown by the most reactionary side of the Spanish right-wing and a big part of the public media, who use this accusations as a political attack, regardless of people's freedom. Wonderful years when the object of all ridiculous accusations was the 15/M, the ***social movement the local council encourages to represent.


Our Union wants to express our support to “Títeres Desde Abajo”. We demand the immediate release of all detainees and the right of free artistic creation. Again, we are under political oppression by the authorities and a very well defined political sector of the society of this country. They should use the energy they are wasting against artistic performances to better goals, for the people who really need it. But it is clear that this is a mask to hide real political intentions that are transmitted by force instead of culture. Finally, we thank all the people, groups and organizations that in a matter of hours, have shown their support to "Títeres desde Abajo" and have contacted with our organization when they found out about our close relation with the two detainees. We hope they are released free of charges immediately.


Tr.: Marta