Via Anarquía, English translation by Anarchist News

A NOTE FROM ANARQUÍA: The following interview of our comrade Gabriel Pombo da Silva was carried out on the past December 12. This conversation was granted to a media outlet with which we have no affinity, yet it’s necessary to give visibility to the situation our comrades are living in prison. All the strength and solidarity to our comrade Gabriel. Health and Anarchy!

Gabriel Pombo da Silva (Vigo, 1967) is one of the prisoners who has spent the longest time in Spanish prisons. When he came in he was just 17 years old, now he recently turned 55. Various robberies with his band, one of them with a homicide, lead him to spend many years in Iberian prisons, as well as some time in German prisons. It’s been more than 30 long years behind bars. Now, his defense demands that the Court of Ourense, which condemned him, apply the current Penal Code, a stance also defended by the Prosecution of the Supreme Court. This would imply his immediate release, ten years later than what corresponded.

—Some months have passed since the Prosecution of the Supreme Court requested that they apply the current Penal Code to your sentence, which would imply your immediate release…

—It’s now in the hands of the Supreme Court, but the important thing is we’ve discovered that the court that sentenced me, the Provincial Court of Ourense, is the one that was originally responsible for not applying the latest Penal Code like the law states, which would have benefited me the most. They had sentenced me 28 years and change for the felony of robbery with homicide, which was once the maximum penalty. With the latest Penal Code, which was in force at the time, it’s twelve years and six months.

—How many years have you spent in prison?

—More than 30. I’ve made the rounds through almost every prison in Spain.

—Are you the prisoner that has spent the most years imprisoned in Spain?

—I don’t know. It’s likely. I think there must be some that have spent more time, but they’ve been forgotten because they are poor.

—If they had applied the most beneficial Penal Code, you would be free, and you would have enjoyed ten years of life without being behind bars.

—Yes. I am kidnapped. The Court of Ourense should have revised my conviction to apply the most favorable Penal Code. But I’m still here.

—And how could ten years of life be returned?

—It can’t be done. I take the good part with me, the fact that I’ve had time to delve deeply into myself, into human nature, into the world.

—In what context did your run-ins with the Law begin?

—In the eighties. I remember the neighborhood of El Calvario, in Vigo, poor, miserable, red; on one side the town, and on the other the police. I was raised by my grandparents, who instilled in me class solidarity. So I started to do what I shouldn’t: shoot, expropriate (rob), and hanging out with the rebels. There was a lot of unemployment, a lot of despair, and a lot of emigration.

—And didn’t you consider back then that you could continue your struggle in the political or syndicalist arena, instead of using violence?

—The political and the syndicalist paths were useless. It didn’t work. We used to hand out food and money to poor families. They were hard times. We are also talking about a period of time where the far-right killed, where there were groups of ultras, and we, in the working class, had to defend ourselves.

—And suddenly, drugs arrived…

—It was very strange. Pure heroin began to appear around Vigo. I noticed that, overnight, in all of the neighborhoods in which we were organized and working on a political and social level, drugs suddenly appeared and destroyed the young people, the workers, affecting everyone.

—You spent 8 years of your sentence under the harsh regime of the FIES (Ficheros Internos de Especial Seguimiento). You don’t seem psychologically, nor physically affected.

—I’ve pushed onward by force of inertia.To be able to resist, I concentrated on myself, on reading, on sports, and basically on resisting the day-to-day.

—You’ve always refused to collaborate with the penitentiary center. You didn’t agree to teaching courses to the other prisoners. Did you have to pay consequences for that stance?

—I’m still paying dearly for it. I’ve made the worst enemies in every place: drug traffickers, bankers, judges, and even among those who work inside here.

—Has prison changed much in these thirty long years?

—Most of those who come in are mentally ill or are doped. Today, prison is no longer the surveillance and punishment of Foucault, but instead what Orwell reflected on, the thought police. Rehabilitation is not the goal. This is basically just a business. Those who have money get out of jail. Those who have political godparents, have privileges…

—What will you do when you’re out?

—I will create an infoshop in my farm that will be named after Agustín Rueda, in the county of Mos. I will foster collectives, publishers… based on mutual aid and holistic education and training. We have to return to the land.

—Nothing to do with your previous trajectory

—Yes, it’s a matter of being a realist, of pragmatism. I see myself helping with the formation and education of other comrades, rather than robbing banks. Translating interesting books that are not in Spanish, creating cooperatives…

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