Carnival in Madrid

Madrid mayor apologizes for “deplorable” puppet show

Two arrested puppeteers appeal preventive prison as city launches investigation into the case

A Carnival puppet show for kids depicting assassinations and rape has landed its creators in jail and forced the city of Madrid to issue a public apology after initially playing down the incident.

On Monday, Mayor Manuela Carmena apologized at a press conference “for having marred the Carnival celebrations with that incredibly deplorable puppet show episode.”

“I am sorry for ruining Carnival,” said Carmena, a former labor lawyer who won the May 2015 municipal elections with a leftist alliance that included the anti-austerity group Podemos. “I apologize to all parents for a show that was unacceptable and inadequate for children, truly deplorable.”

“We defend the freedom of expression and the right for a society to make social and political criticisms through satire”

Madrid City Hall

The mayor said that there will be “an in-depth investigation into the responsibility of the culture department and the district [of Tetuán, where the show was held] for not checking the content first.”

Carmena did not say whether she will remove Madrid culture chief Celia Mayer, as other municipal parties are asking her to do. Mayer has recently come under fire for a separate decision to start taking down city monuments with ties to the Civil War and the Franco regime without properly informing the opposition.

But Madrid City Hall has also denied that the controversial puppet show held for the public on Friday during annual Carnival celebrations was designed to glorify terrorism.

Two members of the theater group are being held behind bars after they were arrested on suspicion of supporting terrorism and violating public rights and liberties. A High Court judge ordered them held in custody, although the suspects have appealed the decision.

Madrid culture chief Celia Mayer.

The arrests came after the puppeteers held up a placard that read “Gora-Alka-ETA,” or, “Long live Al Qaeda-ETA,” referring to the Islamic and Basque terrorist groups.

The presentation, La bruja y don Cristóbal, which was held on the grounds of the city’s water-works company Canal Isabel II in Tetuán, included scenes of a judge being hanged, two police officers beaten, a pregnant woman stabbed and the rape and murder of a nun.

The puppeteers were taken into custody by Madrid municipal police officers after parents complained and called the authorities.

In a statement, Ahora Madrid said that “at no time has City Hall linked what occurred with possible crimes related to exalting terrorism

Cultural commissioner Mayer filed a complaint against the company Títeres desde abajo, (or, Puppeteers from below), but she has since insisted that the complaint was never meant to suggest that the performers may have been glorifying terrorist activities.

In a statement, Ahora Madrid said that “at no time has City Hall linked what occurred with possible crimes related to exalting terrorism. We defend freedom of expression and the right for a society to make social and political criticisms through satire.”

The puppeteering group was due to pocket €1,000 for two shows, but did not get paid.

The two suspects were identified as Alfonso L. de la F., 29, and Raúl G. P., 34. High Court Judge Ismael Velasco ordered both of them to be held in custody on Saturday.

English version by Martin Delfin.

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