HATE SPEECH

Spanish tourism minister receives letter with bloody knife

The threatening missive to Reyes Maroto arrived just a few days after politicians Pablo Iglesias and Fernando Grande-Marlaska and Civil Guard chief María Gámez were sent packages containing bullets

The pocketknife that was sent to Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto.
The pocketknife that was sent to Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto.

Spain’s industry, commerce and tourism minister, Reyes Maroto, has become the latest high-profile figure to receive a threatening letter in the last week. On Monday the Industry Ministry confirmed that the Socialist Party (PSOE) politician had been sent a bloody knife in the mail along with a missive. The incident comes after Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias and Civil Guard chief María Gámez were all sent packages last week containing threats and bullets.

The National Police have already identified and located the person who sent the letter. The suspect is a resident of El Escorial, located north of the Spanish capital, and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia according to police sources. He had in the past shown an obsession with the minister, the same sources stated. The quick identification of the alleged author of the letter was possible given that he had written his name and address on the envelope as the sender. Preliminary investigation by the police suggested that there is no link between this incident and those that took place last week.

Maroto could be the next deputy premier of Madrid, should the PSOE candidate for the upcoming May 4 regional polls, Ángel Gabilondo, take power. The electoral race is proving to be highly charged politically, with tensions between the competing parties – the PSOE, the conservative Popular Party (PP), left-wing Unidas Podemos, center-right Ciudadanos and far-right Vox – running high.

The padded envelope addressed to Reyes Maroto and the pocketknife found inside.
The padded envelope addressed to Reyes Maroto and the pocketknife found inside.FUENTES OFICIALES / Europa Press

On Friday, a pre-election debate at the Cadena SER radio station was cut short after Iglesias refused to participate due to accusations from Vox candidate Rocío Monasterio that the threatening letter he received was not real, and the far-right politician’s continued attacks and interruptions aimed at her rivals and the presenter and moderator during the remainder of the broadcast.

The Interior Ministry confirmed on Monday that it had opened an investigation into the package that was sent to Maroto. The folding-blade knife was reported by police sources to have been hidden between two CDs in the package, allowing it to pass security checks undetected. Sources from the ministry and Unidas Podemos had revealed earlier in the day that security measures had been stepped up for the three public figures who received the threats last week.

Writing on Twitter on Monday, Maroto stated that “threats and violence will never silence the voice of democracy. Freedom will prevail. Many thanks for all of your displays of support on a day that strengthens my will to work toward a better future.”

Leading figures from other political parties also issued statements. Pablo Iglesias, who until recently was serving in the PSOE-Unidas Podemos coalition government as one of Spain’s deputy prime ministers, wrote on Twitter today: “All of our solidarity with Reyes Maroto. We have had enough fascist threats.”

“Reyes is not alone,” added PSOE candidate Gabilondo. “We are with her. We also feel threatened in our hearts, in our convictions, in our values, in our lives. They want to intimidate us,” he continued.

Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto during a campaign event earlier this month.
Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto during a campaign event earlier this month. Alberto Ortega / Europa Press

Madrid regional premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso, of the PP, said that “threats against public officials make no sense in a free country.” And Mónica García, a Madrid regional candidate with the leftist Más Madrid, sought to link the incumbent with the ultranationalist Vox party, wondering “how many more threats will it take before Ayuso stops endorsing the far right’s policy of hate?”

Earlier threats

“You have 10 days to resign,” read the anonymous letter postmarked April 19 and addressed to Grande-Marlaska. “The days of laughing at us are over. National Police. Civil Guard. Time is not on your side for the taponazos [very loud gunfire or explosion],” Inside the envelope were two 7.62x51mm bullets, according to the police report filed by the minister.

Image shared by Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias showing the letter and the bullets he received last week.
Image shared by Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias showing the letter and the bullets he received last week.

Civil Guard chief Gámez received a similar handwritten message a day earlier, although it was also postmarked April 19. In this case, there was no mention of police forces although it used the term taponazo once more. There was one 7.62mm bullet inside the envelope.

Sources at Unidas Podemos on Thursday confirmed that Pablo Iglesias had received a letter containing “a serious death threat.” The same sources added that this was not the first time that Iglesias had been sent messages of this nature.

“The Interior Ministry has received a letter addressed to me containing death threats against me and my family,” the political leader revealed later on Twitter. He included an image of the missive, which carried the following message written in capital letters and without punctuation marks: “Pablo Iglesias Turrión, you have let our parents and grandparents die. Your wife, your parents and you are sentenced to the death penalty. Your time is running out.”

English version by Simon Hunter.

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