The Politics of the Peninsular “Patrix”: “In Spain There Are no Political Prisoners!”


Author: Cornelis Martin Renes, University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Email: [email protected]
Published: April 6, 2019

Citation: Renes, C. M. (2019). The Politics of the Peninsular “Patrix”: “In Spain There Are no Political Prisoners!” IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 4(1).


“In Spain there are no political prisoners!” Rafael Català, the Spanish Minister of Justice under PM Mariano Rajoy, exclaimed in reply to a Catalan separatist´s demand that he address the numerous arrests that had been carried out after the October 1, 2017 referendum on Catalan independence, on the unlikely charges of corruption, rebellion, sedition and terrorism. The minister was cited by numerous Spanish news media on his denial as well as its corollary – Catalan separatists were bullying Spanish unionists in Catalonia. Yet, Catalan separatism is known for its democratic, pacific character, abstaining from acts of aggression, and this is what earned it the support of many inside and outside Catalonia after the central state’s violent interference with the referendum. It shows pacifism is not only a moral choice but also a strategic device to defend the Catalan cause in a context of structural power deficit which furnishes the Spanish state with most means of oppression such as police, army, judiciary and financial and economic control. I would argue that Spanish nationalist discourse covers up this power imbalance by recourse to a pseudo-democratic veneer which claims victim status but, in reality, serves to impose the Spanish constitutionalist and monarchical order, taking the separatist cause out of the political arena by criminalising it. A further look into events beyond the state of affairs regarding Catalan separatism may even reveal a structural male chauvinist strain in Spanish society which reinforces its authoritarian traits and that I have coined the “patrix”.


Spanish nationalism, Catalan separatism, historical amnesia, fascist legacy, male chauvinism