From Act for Freedom Now!
Words from anarchist prisoner Gabriel Pombo Da Silva, Oporto (Portugal)/Badajoz (Spain) – April/May 2020
Translated to English by Act for freedom now!
Gabriel Pombo Da Silva communique
Gabriel has asked us to select some of his words from his more recent letters and compile a communique addressed to all those who would like to read it, as it is impossible for him to write one now that would get out of the prison where they are holding him kidnapped. The letters in question, which arrived after much delay, are dated from 11th April to 20th of May when he wrote the only letter in the prison of Badajoz in Portogal, [he has since been transferred to the prison of Mansilla de las Mulas in León].
Gabriel sends strong hugs to all the comrades who are supporting him sincerely and to all the dignified individuals who continue to struggle for freedom in whatever part of the world they find themselves.
Freedom for Gabriel!
Freedom for all!
Long live Anarchy!
Words from Gabriel Pombo Da Silva, April – May 2020
“… what is happening has no logic or rules… it’s like playing a game of chess where every now and again someone buts in and moves a piece on the board… how can you play or win a game like that? What are the ‘rules’ or the ‘limits’? I can’t even talk about ‘Law’ (regardless of what I think about it) or appeal to ‘Rights’ after all I have gone through… that’s why I am wondering: given that I don’t have any ‘Rights’, what are the ‘rules’ of this struggle? In the end the State’s war against resilient individuals is always dirty, without any ‘rules’…”
“To keep silent is to tolerate what is abhorrent, to rot inside. It is a thousand times better to die for what one believes, thinks and feels than to keep quiet and ‘live’ in the grip of a state of terror. What life of shit could that ever be?”
“The day when not one single individual exists that is capable of resisting the authoritarian mega-machine (and I’m not talking about ancient mythology), the freedom of everyone will be dead… we will only be appendices of a system that produces nothing but extreme alienation.”
Gabriel Pombo Da Silva
(…) I want the month of April to be over… in May I might go away from here. Well, rather than go away, they’ll take me away… it’s important to write and speak with propriety, hehe.
Clearly changes always upset and worry us but… we already know that we have no say in anything here (and the detention situation in this place is heavy…) and that the push to my situation must be given out there… so, ‘calm or concerned’ we need a change of scenery.
I’m not going to ‘dwell’ on what will be or will happen because I don’t know… I am neither a man of ‘faith’ or a sucker; I’m made of stoic stuff. (…)
I was rereading what I wrote yesterday… and I noticed something that perhaps I should go into a little further, I’m referring to the fact that I’m not a man of ‘faith’.
Of course I am an atheist and not at all religious… but in spite of the fact I’m not religious, I have blind faith in what I have learned from life itself and from people throughout my life. My faith expresses itself through my ethics and my ethics reflect my faith. I firmly believe what I say and I’m ready for anything for my convictions… so, even if I am not religious, I am more of a ‘believer’ than these ‘religious people of clay’. Look at the ‘representative’ of God on earth locked in the Vatican and also his servants and faithful. At least the central character of this religion didn’t hesitate to clean lepers’ wounds or to go to martyrdom with dignity. As people who ‘believe’ in resurrection they don’t seem to be particularly motivated to put their faith to the test, hehehe!
They probably think: die first you because I feel like laughing… in this there’s a parallelism between anarchist-communists and christians: all believe in the idea-word but nobody wants to go to crucifixion or martyrdom… they content themselves with giving a ‘testimony’ of the idea-word, hehe!
Love for the human being, justice, pacifism, proselytism, sermons… heaven above or on earth, to share bread, to be in solidarity… fuck! Most people don’t even realize how christian-religious all the ramifications of socialism (the ‘real’ and the ‘utopian’) are … all the recipes for socialism-anarchism and communism were cooked in monotheist-Jewish-Christian and Islamic religions (exactly in that order). Cultural Christianity is the same as cultural anarchism. We must stop seeing people for their ‘ism’ but, if it is the case, appreciate them for their ethics. Herds are always in search of a messiah… they cannot have a life for themselves without the ‘warmth’ of groups and the exhibitionism of ‘belief’… action is always ‘excused’ with ‘I do what I can’… the confession of our limits absolves us all… what a sin. We are imperfect! Fuck! The invention of confession (assemblies or therapies in the secular version) and penitence are perfect devices for accepting whichever ‘morons’ or ‘assholes’ are among us. (…)
(…) From what I interpret by listening to the ‘news’ (i.e. State propaganda), the state of quarantine will continue… of course they need to behave as if they were in control of all the clinical-scientific aspects because panic generates chaos and lack of control.
This virus is really anti-civilization, hehe… it decided to decimate the ‘old people’ (over 40) who managed to trick longevity through medical science… fuck off ‘old people’ with botox and heart valves! Fuck off asthmatics with sprays and diabetics with pills! It’s not that I don’t understand this ‘eugenic’ virus, but as an ‘old’ asthmatic and social-animal with many ‘old’ friends and relatives, it worries me. If we lived in a different kind of world that respected nature, life and social justice, probably I’d rebel in wanting to understand the positive side of this ‘little being’.
It’s fantastic that there are no football matches (hurrah!), that cities have more breathable air (hurrah!), that people have time to think about life and death (hurrah!). (…)
(…) The question of the Spanish prisons (from what I read in Extremera) is worrying… I know well the power that these murderers have accumulated historically, and with the excuse of ‘corona-virus’ (and with no visits) nor anyone to control the controllers, it’s scary… the same as when at the beginning of the F.I.E.S. regime they had carte blanche to do whatever they liked…
Capital is pressing on and has restarted work in some ‘strategic’ sectors (industry and construction)… they make references to the virus ‘statistics’ and to the ‘decreasing stability of the pandemic peak’… this is the language of these administrators of misery (…) but they know that if they don’t want widespread ‘revolts’, they have to give sectorial ‘permits’ and ‘conditional promises’. They are applying the same prison regime to the citizen as they are to the prisoners. Instead of guards and jailers in the exercise yard, they have soldiers and police in the underground stations, in the streets and in the factories. From home to work and from work to home; an hour to take your dog to shit or to go shopping. Locking of doors and sharing the cell with others… I only hope they are lucky enough to be in a cage with someone nice. (…)
(…) Those who flaunt power flaunt the legitimacy (in all fields) of saying and indicating who are the ‘righteous’ and who are the ‘heretics’… for over 2000 years civilization is the conductor of the music to be listened to.
I know that any battle against ‘civilization’ (christian, capitalist and militarist), both at a ‘chaotic’ and ‘organized’ level, is lost in advance… but as the fairy-tale of the frog and the scorpion goes, I can’t go against my own nature… I can’t say that I ‘believe’ in the fictions that human beings invent. I can’t shut up or close my eyes, I can’t look away either or be indifferent when I see the world we live in and the fact that everybody (everybody in a powerful minority) want it to be accepted acritically, by force and without saying a word… what ‘amazes’ me (perhaps less and less) is to see how the huge majority can accept this world of shit without feeling any shame…???
Galileo Galilei presented what reason dictated to him and… in spite of this, publicly, in the face of power (the Inquisition) he retracted… he saved his life but he lost his dignity. Giordano Bruno followed what reason and dignity dictated to him, that’s why they killed him. Power is a murderer of reason and human dignity; truth can only be ‘relative’ or ‘apparent’, never ‘clear’ or ‘real’ (…). The human being is a necrophile, so persecutes and kills those who ‘raise’ themselves above its decadent nature… ‘education’ and ‘work’ (after ‘responsibilities’) alienate and discipline it to live in a mediocre miserable way.
Clearly many know what truth, justice, dignity, etc. are, but very few venture to risk their ‘privileges’ for the sake of these high values. How many times I’ve heard people say: “you have already done enough, leave it to others…” or “when will you change, don’t you see the world is like that?” They think that to show solidarity, to be coherent, dignified is something temporary and that one has to resign oneself and accept the world as it is…
In the last (about 30) years I have committed my ‘crime’ with pen and mind… these hypocrites say that we have ‘freedom of expression’ but if you write something they don’t like or that irritates them they look at the penal code and always find something.
In Spain the jailers are dehumanized and are this way because society accepts it… now ‘incarcerated-society’ is receiving some of the same medicine that it has allowed to be given to its prisoners… now it will know what it means to suffer in silence, to suffer anxiety, nostalgia, all sorts of loss… it will learn to appreciate the courage of disobedience, the value of freedom, the emotion of embracing a loved one again… Now it will also feel the ‘effects’ of isolation, authoritarianism and of arrogance in uniform… … when my father died they didn’t allow me to go to the funeral (they said I was dangerous)… and without Covid-19. I know well what it feels when your loved ones are buried without your being able to say your last goodbye. Now they say this is inhuman… of course with me they were in-human but, as I was a F.I.E.S. prisoner, they could allow themselves to be in-human…
The citizen without ‘Rights’ is the same shit as a prisoner… the government in the form of Prison Institution. The prison system is been applied outside. Citizens in 1st Grade, 2nd Grade or on bail. Citizens on leave, in temporary and conditional freedom. Who would ever have said that a virus would finally unveil ‘society’ as being panoptic-society more than a hundred or a thousand conferences or documentaries on the subject? Many will ask themselves what they should do to survive reclusion… nothing, a lot of patience and improvisation, hehe. I’ve always maintained that the future doesn’t exist… Carpe Diem human being and may the earth be gentle to you. (…)
(…) I’ve always thought that the Chinese fabricated this virus to crush the rebellion in Hong Kong… a kind of experiment. Now it is already of no importance… they lost control of the experiment… however I still see some sense in this conspiracy even if we’ll never know. The worst is that other ‘world powers’ discovered the military potential of these pandemics… the virus panic is a fact and moreover whoever has the cure becomes God… even capitalism will obey those who allow it to live or die (…). If you think well about it, there’s no better weapon in the world (better than technology, industry, capitalism, ideology…) than power over life and death.
We’ve already seen what a virus such as Covid-19 can do in the space of such short a time on an economic, industrial, political social and psychological level… does it make sense or not as a military weapon? (…)
(…) I’m resigned to my fate and this is called class consciousness… to know I’ll never be keep quiet as long as I write and think aloud because freedom of expression is only a ‘Right’ for artists and intellectuals… it is sufficient for them put the adjective ‘terrorist’ on you for the world to close their eyes and they can do whatever they like with you… I’m resigned to my fate because I didn’t let myself be terrorized by a gang of fascists who want me to keep quiet and stop writing what I think and believe. If I allowed all that my life would be as artificial as their ‘talk-shows’. Should I censure myself? Should I regret something?
They can persecute and imprison me for what I write, they can burn my books but they won’t ever lock up or wipe out my ideas and what I have said. Every empire has a beginning and an end (as History teaches us), as well as every dictatorship. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to see this rotten system reduced to ruins but the mere fact of imagining it consoles me deeply.
And ‘talking’ about consolations, I’m glad my stay here is about to end… I can’t bear being locked up in this shit of a jail any longer; with no light, almost no air and with no kind of view whatsoever… at least in Spain the windows can be opened and I can see the moon and the stars and breathe some fresh air. All this has no sense now regardless of what could happen there. (…)
(…) We all (anarchists included) want to believe we have ‘Rights’ and are surprised and angry when they violate these theoretical ‘Rights’ of ours… we don’t want to accept (deep down) that the ‘Right’ has no obligations but duties that change according to who you are. In other words: the dictatorship of the ‘State of the Law’ only exists for the privileged who can buy it and, in addition, it concedes certain ‘Rights’ to all those who slavishly lend themselves to obedience. So much the worse for you if the State declares you its enemy!!
(…) The truth is, it is very ‘stressing’ to be aware (talking in political terms) and live in this world… especially as it’s clear that as individuals or a minority we will never be able to change the world… and the world must be changed because otherwise life on planet Earth will become a horror movie… we are already seeing some aspects of this dystopian horror but we still have a little time left… not much, ‘a little’. (…)
(…) Fascism (in all its variations) is intrinsically intolerant… it doesn’t accept critics but wants followers… those who don’t understand this are eliminated, silenced, tortured, defamed. Like the Catholicism of ‘Opus Dei’, its dogma is faith… exaltation of emotive irrationality, martial gesturing. Individuals do not live in a habitat that demands gregariousness… only its great leaders are proto-men who rise above them. Only God, only the Leader, only the King or the Pope are ‘individuals’… the mass must not forget what their task is in the ‘Great Work’: obey, believe, follow the great leader. (…)
(…) We live in a prevalently utilitarian world and society; what counts is what is useful to power and the highest ‘value’ is the monetary one. Human values and principles that translate into personal dignity are rarities. The dignified individual is imprisoned while the snitch is ‘freed’. The dignified worker is sacked while the disgusting blackleg is hired. Those who say what they think are punished and praise is for the donkey that does nothing but accept everything the boss says. The bosses of the whole world select their servants with the purpose of using them and in this way we see governments, businesses, political parties and unions full of nazis or total snitches… there are no work mates but rivals, there are no
‘skilled workers’ but utter arse-lickers… money rules, power selects: that’s all. A snapshot of our world.
We are seven billion people in this world and the ‘ideal’ of the great majority is what capitalism sells through its consumerist propaganda and what Hollywood fabricates in its films. The new heroes are millionaire imbeciles who can only kick a football or frivolous ‘Lady Gagas’ who writhe in musical video-clips. We put our children in schools where they are brutalized and where they ‘socialize’ in spaces that resemble more ‘deformatories’ than academies. It’s compulsory to be vaccinated with shit in the name of laboratories that impose ‘scientific’ recipes on institutions. ‘Gestapo’ social welfare of the good social order. (…) Really, when I think of all this I rebel against this world… and when you express these ideas to ‘normal people’ they accuse you of being a radical. Obviously they don’t know that radical derives from root and that it can’t be interpreted as an insult or a recrimination. To get to the root of everything: observe, study, compare, reflect (…)
(…) Capitalism counts on more ‘believers’ than God does… the bourgeoisie will never voluntarily give up power and we cannot make them renounce it… so… watch TV, stay indoors and dream with all sorts of injections. It troubles me a lot to seem so ‘cynical’ but… I’m not a sucker and I see how imbeciles with power manipulate us (it’s a constant throughout History) and divide us constantly and permanently. I see how we are unable to struggle collectively against the authoritarian hydra that degrades and consumes us. (…)
(…) Prisoners watch TV all day long… all day long ‘corona-virus’ special programs… they don’t get visits, the junta de tratamiento (the commission that runs visits, leaves, enhancement of prison grade, etc.) has been suspended and the junta de régimen (pure prison system through and through… that is to say exclusively guards and ‘security’) remain… and they want no alarm to be created among the prisoners? Inside as well as outside the few formal ‘Rights’ that exist are being suspended and martial dictatorship is being imposed: who the fuck can be calm? When there’s dictatorship, the first things to be suspended are ‘Rights’. Prison is formed by a junta de régimen and one of tratamiento and even if personally I never had any tratamiento that wasn’t pure regimen, I know what the abolition or disappearance of tratamiento means for the functioning of a prison. No classes, workshops, sport, enhanced prison grade, freedom. No tutors, social assistants, psychologists… so if already outside ‘citizens’ have felt what being confined means, imagine how prisoners must feel! (…)
May 6th[talking about waiting for the “Habeas Corpus” – via videoconference – demanded by the lawyer in response to the denied release in spite of the fact that 90 days of detention had expired. Italian translator’s note]
(…) Both the ‘form’ and the ‘content’ of something so impersonal seem surreal to me, to say the least. I refuse it instinctively: it offends me, violates me regardless of the end result. It seems aberrant to me that persons with decision-making power over someone else’s life communicate it in such a cold distant fashion. I almost prefer not to see their faces even on a screen, and have them send me in writing what they decide to do with my life. It’s long ago now the time of a trial like that against Socrates, who, at least, could do his own self-defence and said goodbye to his friends with dignity before taking the hemlock.
This ‘impersonal’, ‘civilized’ and ‘technological’ way is lacking any form of humanity, logic, value, sense and dignity… if I want to ‘defend’ myself or ‘insult’ them or to make a self-defence and say something they won’t appreciate, they have just to push a bottom and I’d be ‘off’… and in seeing a shit computer turned off I’d be left with anger, indignation and the words in my mouth…
Besides all the power of the law and class power, bourgeois justice can count on a remote control to represent its juridical pantomime… when I think of all this I want to become a savage… there are no gaps for anything human in something so impersonal… which reminds me that they do the same with our prisoner comrades in Italy… a farce that wants to reduce us to digital images; make us disappear from a real visual, tactile, acoustic, presence … instead of ‘present bodies’ we are ‘absent bodies’, a ghostly projection… as in a videogame they will be able to kill us without even feeling any kind of empathy… it’s not the same thing shooting directly in the head of a guy as shooting a human representation with the console. Physical distancing from what one does doesn’t create conscience or empathy as really doing something does. Franco signed death sentences, he didn’t kill personally… his hangmen did it.
In this sense the administration of ‘Justice’ applies the same pattern as the meat industry. The production line is divided into specialized phases and each plays its part. Those who give the orders do so at a distance, they are desktop murderers. The consumers buy a finished product without feeling or thinking about the whole production chain.
Would they eat meat if they had to kill and dismember the animals themselves? Would they put their own kind in a cage? I leave this reflection here… so I’ll take a thousand a deep breathes before I sit down tomorrow in front of my ‘virtual (but real) hangmen’. (…)
(…) You need a superhuman will to live without hope and believe you can only get by and make ends meet. It’s ‘lucky’ that I have been sentenced to a camouflaged life sentence and not a certain death sentence: it’s already a kind of ‘hope’… I will resist and endure it because at the end of all this I shall be able (at least) to live my final years as a free man, because I’ll be able to die far from this authoritarian and criminal Dantesque scenario, because I’ll be able to say to myself that I never renounced my ideals of freedom and dignity…
(…) We anarchists ‘lose ourselves’ in many ways of interpreting freedom… it is impossible to get three anarchists to agree… the fact that they consider us a ‘threat’ to their omnipotent State is quite ridiculous to tell the truth…the State-Capital has everything secured and controlled… these small margins of ‘alternative life’ will never be a real threat for the Moloch.
Aesthetic activism is something cultural and social no matter how radical it defines itself… what really represents a change of power relations is the economic question… for there to be another political reality another economic paradigm is necessary. Obviously the State-Capital can’t afford rivals in this sense, that’s why ‘communes’ can only be minimalist islands of alternative survival and not a real alternative to the State-Capital. Without the destruction of Moloch (that the Communist Libertarian Revolution would be), without the support of the masses and their self-organization, we are left with the sad consolation of ‘communes’. In spite of everything I prefer this consolation to waged work in a city or faith in whatever Revolution, hehe. (…)
(…) What always counts for power is numbers, not reason or logic. As long as it continues to have millions of ‘faithful’ and ‘voters’ we are fucked. So we shouldn’t be surprised if they violate ‘Rights’, don’t apply their own ‘laws’ and even, good delinquents that they are, conceal, silence, make their enemies and what they write and say disappear. ‘Civilization’ is precisely this: power, censorship, authoritarianism and propaganda. The world we know can’t survive without all this… ignorance is the fundamental pillar of ‘civilization’… and strength for who, in spite of everything, doesn’t want to accept the status quo. I have serious and legitimate doubts that the world can (or wants) to change direction… yet, nevertheless, I think it is always better to be enlightened rather than ignorant. After all this is the only meaning of life: KNOWING WHERE WE COME FROM… ‘Adam and Eve’s’ ‘sin’ was to eat the fruit of knowledge… only ‘God’ (or the ‘Devil’) can have knowledge and for this he gave them ‘immortality’ (or freedom); they can be immortal but ignorant. In other words, the chastisement of human beings is the consequence of wanting to compare themselves to the Gods. (…)
(…) In short: they turned up at dawn on 12th May, let me have a shower and even drink a good coffee. No telephone calls or possibility to let anyone know.
Into the armoured van, escort and off to the Portuguese Extremadura (I didn’t know where I was because they hadn’t told me anything) to a little old jail called Elva (I learned this once I got to Spain). The next day the judicial police and in 20 minutes they delivered me to the corresponding Interpol of Badajoz. On the day of 13th May (after the photos, etc.) I entered the prison of Badajoz.
Re-encountering the Spanish prison situation (all the more so now, in full viral ‘Pandemonium’) always turns out to be something like a ‘habit’ for me. A thousand years could go by here and nothing would ever change (what changes is people’s mentality), it’s always the same… from the registration section they took me (a few hours later) to unit-7 (old F.I.E.S. unit) which has remained horrendous exactly like all the F.I.E.S. units operating throughout the country. No, this place never changes! These were the units that contributed to creating the most ‘dangerous’ men of Spanish ‘criminality’: Juanito Redondo, Paco Ortiz, Juanjo Garfia, etc… 30 years and I’ve had a flash-back of all of them and all that dark era… perhaps the Marxists are right and History repeats itself in cycles. What I ask myself (at this point in the micro-history) is: what am I doing here? What am I doing in jail? If I hadn’t been free for these almost four years, I’d think that it was all a dream (…).
It would be absurd to try to ‘explain’ or ‘say’ what my ‘judicial-penal’ situation is… anyone reading my ‘papers’ (the eternal ‘expedient’) from a ‘legal-criminal’ point of view, wouldn’t be able to understand them, or find a solution … like everything, it’s a question of time… the time needed for the appeals, the time necessary to ‘solve’ or ‘complicate’…
I am well mentally and physically… I am as thick-skinned as a crocodile now (30 years’ ‘training’ by Prison Institutions have set me up for life)… this is all madness, an infra-world of appearances and ‘reality’ hard to explain… you have to live it first person to get an idea of it (even perhaps without ‘understanding’ it). It’s difficult to explain prison and the ‘logic’ of how it functions. Each unit is a planet of the system with its own ‘bio-logic’… I guess it would be some mad scientists and hopeless guinea pigs’ dream.
(…) Here ‘people’ are not exactly into literature. One of the big differences between prisoners of my generation and this one is that we used to read a lot while those of today spend all their time in front of the TV… poverty and drug addiction have always been concentrated in the jails but not at these levels. Once being poor didn’t automatically mean being ignorant or a drug addict. You also ended up in prison for other kinds of offences. Now nearly everybody is inside for drug dealing or use and gender-based violence. So I carry on with the self-discipline of the gym (in cell), reading and the notes for the next book… there is always interesting material for literature and poetry. (…)
LIFE AND DEATH
Time passes quickly; only yesterday I was a child
and I’m already a ‘man’.
Nothing at all is very important; only when it passes do we ask ourselves about its meaning.
Life doesn’t seek meaning; simply a skimming through what existed.
It’s human to wonder how animal it is to abandon oneself.
That’s what I can say after looking at myself.
Pawn or King on the Chessboard (it doesn’t matter much) it’s all about moving; life is a game which always ends with death.
Gabriel Pombo Da Silva
– Oporto (Portugal)/Badajoz (Spain) – April/May 2020