See why a 21-Year-Old Student Sent To Jail After Making Fun 1973 Prime Minister Assassination.
Cassandra Vera told Guardian that her tweets about Luis Carrero Blanco’s death “It was a joke – nothing more than that,” . “I don’t regret doing it. It was just humour – and this kind of humour is very accepted in Spain so I don’t think I have anything to be sorry for.”
On 20 December 1973, the Spanish prime minister was killed in Madrid by a car bomb of such force that the Dodge in which he was travelling was blown more than 20 metres into the air and over the roof of the church where he had minutes earlier attended mass.
It both murdered the man seen as Franco’s natural successor and showed that the Basque separatists Eta could strike at the highest level of his dictatorship.
44-years on, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco’s assassination is once again resonating through Spanish society after Cassandra Vera, a 21-year-old student from the south-eastern region of Murcia, was sentenced to a year in prison for joking about it in a series of tweets.
Five months later, Vera tweeted: “Kissinger gave Carrero Blanco a piece of the moon; Eta paid for the trip there.”
Spain’s top criminal court, the Audiencia Nacional, found her guilty of glorifying terrorism and humiliating victims. On top of her jail term, it also barred her from doing a publicly funded job – such as being a teacher – for seven years.
The case has fuelled concerns about freedom of expression in Spain and split political parties along familiar lines. The ruling conservative People’s party (PP) said it respected the court’s decision, while Pablo Iglesias, leader of the anti-austerity Podemos party, came out to defend Vera, as did his coalition partner, Alberto Garzón of Izquierda Unida.
“Joking is not a crime and Spain is not a dictatorship,” Iglesias tweeted. “If that lands you in the Audiencia Nacional, then let them take me there along with Cassandra.”
Vera, who studies history at Murcia University, argues that she had no intention of praising terrorists or belittling their victims.
“It was a joke – nothing more than that,” she told the Guardian. “I don’t regret doing it. It was just humour – and this kind of humour is very accepted in Spain so I don’t think I have anything to be sorry for.”
Vera pointed out that the 13 tweets were drawn from more than 90,000 she had posted and said she had been scared and surprised to find herself before the Audiencia Nacional.
“It’s where the country’s corruption cases end up, and the drug traffickers and the terrorists,” she said. “I can’t believe that I ended up there for a joke in today’s Spain.”
Although Vera’s sentence was suspended as the offence was not violent, she fears the court’s decision will “mark me for life”.
She added: “I want to be a teacher but I can’t get a government loan to carry on studying at university and I don’t know what I’m going to do from now on.”
Vera said that while most of Spain had learned to come to terms with its past through humour, some people seemed to be lagging behind.
“The majority of Spanish society has accepted its past and recognised that the dictatorship was a cruel period,” she said. “And it knows that while jokes about Carrero Blanco may be in bad taste, they’re socially acceptable. But judges and prosecutors don’t see it that way and haven’t adapted.”