Spanish prisons: Words from anarchist compañera Mónica Caballero

From Contrainfo, translation WOS:

Communique received February 11, 2016

Below we leave some words from anarchist compañera Mónica Caballero in relation to the logic and functioning of the respect unit (m-R) in multiple prisons in the Spanish State. With the aim of directly controlling the population imprisoned there and, with the preventive excuse of “resolving” frictions between individuals in–forced–cohabitation, these units are fundamentally destined to avoid serious problems between the prisoners and the institution, trapping any rebellious impulse or attitude that questions the imposed consensus. And working on the basis of submission to rules and protocols that maintain order, they seek the participation and collaboration of the inmates. Undoubtedly, we find similarities with the logic of the “outside,” since the project of prison is a vital part of the system in its totality through which it reproduces the same forms of the existent Domination.

We also remember that Mónica Caballero and Francisco Solar will face trial on March 8th, 9th and 10th, 2016, in the Madrid branch of the National Court. As in all of these processes of many years in preventative prison, carried out with dignity and entirety and with convictions intact, the compañeras in this case have been alone. All of our hatred to the police and judges and the system they defend and all our revolutionary love in struggle for our compañeras and many of those persecuted and imprisoned by States. May solidarity always be our responsibility. Freedom for all!

Break down every wall, death to the State, long live anarchy.

[Right now the compañeras are imprisoned in Villabona but will be transferred soon to other prisons in Madrid]

Barcelona, Feb. 10, 2016.


The methods of control inside just as outside prisons are becoming more and more subtle and effective. Why install CCTV cameras? Why hire more guards and police? If we have many who will do the job for free. With much citizen polling they are here to maintain the actual prevailing order, they are everywhere; your neighbor next door or in the cell next to you could be the possible informer.

Within the methods of control in prisons, the respect units (m-R) began as an experimental initiative in the Leon Prison, and then the model was exported to a large majority of spanish prisons.

These units are based in prisoner’s own participation in the management and maintenance of the place as in their activities, etc., in this way creating a feeling of dependence and belonging to the space. Ideally they aim for all the prisoners to create restrictive dynamics-forms for themselves and the rest, as well as rewarding good behavior. The guards act in exceptional or extreme cases.

The ex-director of the I.I.P.P. Mercedes Gallizo, referred to these types of units in the following way: “The mere fact of getting an orderly coexistence and with basic accepted norms for all is a transcendental change for many people. It helps them loose fear of prison and their companions and  is the first link to reduce their hostility towards fear (and incidentally to the Institution) to transform this fear, lack of confidence, and aggression into normalcy and cooperation.” The exercising of power in the first instance is implanted by prisoners themselves in “common agreement” with basic rules to normalize and cooperate, the same institution fixes and incentives the creation of roles and conduct with subtle methods and/or blackmail.

It is undeniable the fear that many feel upon entering prison, the m-R takes advantage of this fear, is sustained by it. Implicitly if you do not comply with the norms you will be left in a normal unit, this can come to be a very effective threat.

These units have many types of incentives and/or rewards, these range from favorable information to more hours of communication (vis a vis), and in turn also have more forms of punishing noncompliance with the regulations.

It is assumed that entering these kinds of units is voluntary and in this entrance you are committed to signing a sort of contract in which it is stipulated amongst other things to have good conduct, comply to the norms, and resolve problems through the established channels. Any given day in a m-R begins with an assembly, directed by a member of the technical team (educator, social worker, and psychologist), all of the prisoners have to attend and sometimes a guard participates. The assembly functions to resolve daily problems, this is the ideal moment for informers and for the technical team to transmit a pathetic discourse of social reinsertion.

Some of the work in the unit is scheduled activities and cleaning. The first are managed by prisoners, carried out with assistance; in the second (cleaning) the prisoners are divided into small groups as directed by a representative prisoner, this representative directs the work and in some cases acts as a spokesperson.

Another important piece in the functioning of these types of units are the mediating prisoners, those who have to intercede in arguments and fights between prisoners and resolve them, and if they are unable to notify the guards. As you can imagine these practices create the loss of capability to resolve problems, in prison you have a mediator or a guard, as in the streets there are police and judges.

Mónica Caballero from Villabona prison.

[The compañera is in a respect unit Villabona, Asturias.]

[This text was written shortly before the court date was set]

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  1. Pingback: Spain: New text from anarchist prisoner Monica Caballero | Mpalothia

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