On 6 February 2016, during a satirical children’s puppet show in Madrid, two puppeteers were arrested because their show featured the hanging of an effigy of a judge, the stabbing of a nun with a crucifix and several police beatings, according to the Spanish paper The Local.
Puppets in the show held up a sign allegedly celebrating ETA, a banned Basque separatist group responsible for killing hundreds and injuring thousands in northern Spain and south-western France. The play made fun of the Popular Party which currently is being investigated for the biggest corruption scandal in the party’s history.
Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena issued a statement saying the childrens’ show had not been previewed by the art director.
“During the workshop the artists hired carried out offensive actions, completely out of place in any context and totally disrespectful with the values of coexistence, respect and diversity proposed by Madrid City Hall,” Manuela Carmena said.
“The local police arrested those responsible and called in the national police, following normal procedure in these cases.”
The puppeteers, Alfonso Lázaro de la Fuente and Raúl García Pérez, were working for Títeres Desde Abajo (‘Puppets from Below’).
The incident happened during carnival time in Spain where streets and squares are filled with costumed people, samba processions, dance and theatre. The show had been commissioned as part of the capital’s carnival celebrations.
A court released them after four days in detention, on 10 February 2016, but a judicial probe into their satirical show continues. Praising terrorism is a crime in Spain. A judge is said to have mentioned that the boys risk between one to three years in prison.
On 13 February 2016, over 1,000 protesters marched through Madrid and the southern Spanish city of Granada calling for charges to be dropped against two puppeteers. On the streets demonstrators were chanting a song by the poet Miguel Hernándezdikt: “Freedom, I bleed | Struggle and survive, for freedom”.
» The Blaze – 13 February 2016:
They Were Thrown in a Spanish Jail for Allegedly Praising Terrorism — but What They Were Doing at the Time Might Surprise You
» Amnesty – 12 February 2016:
Spain: Drop the Charges Against Alfonso Lázaro de la Fuente and Raúl García Pérez
» The Independent – 7 February 2016:
Spanish puppeteers charged with ‘glorifying terrorism’ in show
» The Local – 7 February 2016:
Puppeteers held for ‘glorifying terrorism’ in Madrid show