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Gabriel killing: A lesson from the horror

In a moral example to us all, the victim’s mother has called for an end to the wave of hate against the murder suspect

A protest in Almería in the wake of the Gabriel Cruz killing. “Keep swimming,” reads the sign, a reference to Gabriel’s nickname of “little fish.”
A protest in Almería in the wake of the Gabriel Cruz killing. “Keep swimming,” reads the sign, a reference to Gabriel’s nickname of “little fish.” EFE

Tragedy sometimes contains unsuspected opportunities for learning lessons, and this time it was Patricia Ramírez – a woman who has just lost her eight-year-old son – who gave the public a lesson of great political and social value. The mother of Gabriel Cruz, who was allegedly killed by his father’s girlfriend, has asked “for rage not to spread any further, for nobody to retweet rage-fueled things, because that is not who my son was, and that is not who I am.”

Her words are particularly valuable because they come from the person who could obviously be most forgiven for having the opposite reaction: one of hate, of desire for revenge, for harsher punishments and easy, opportunistic political consequences out of a case that would probably not have been any different in other circumstances.

Gabriel’s mother has raised the moral standard of society to a level that nobody should fall below

On the contrary, Patricia Ramírez has not only given everyone a lesson in self-restraint at a time when the streets and social media are clamoring for exemplary punishment bordering on revenge. Gabriel’s mother has raised the moral standard of society to a level that nobody should fall below. The incitement to hate, acts of revenge and popular justice – “Bring her out!” – that swept social media and were heard during spontaneous acts of repulsion on Sunday must be dampened in light of the efficient way in which the official channels have acted.

Law enforcement agencies are doing their job. The Civil Guard has been exemplary in the way it managed to solve a thorny case, just as the Catalan police force managed to solve the double crime at Susqueda reservoir just a few days earlier, or like law enforcement officials in Galicia managed to identify the murderer of Madrid teenager Diana Quer a few months ago. In this latest case, even though they already suspected that the killer was Ana Julia Quezada, Gabriel’s father’s girlfriend, officers gave the alleged killer leeway to make a mistake, enabling them to locate the child’s body in the process. Now, the justice system will do its job.

The three dramatic cases that have shaken the nation in recent weeks have also revived the debate about reviewable permanent prison terms

The three dramatic cases that have shaken the nation in recent weeks have also revived the debate about reviewable permanent prison terms, whose repeal will be voted on this Thursday in Congress. The government, backed by 2.5 million signatures obtained by the parents of murder victims Diana Quer, Mari Luz Cortés and Marta del Castillo, wants to toughen up the Criminal Code. But what is being voted on Thursday is the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV)’s proposal to eliminate reviewable permanent prison altogether. This initiative is backed by the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Podemos, while Ciudadanos is waiting for the Constitutional Court to hand down a decision before making up its mind.

At this point, political and democratic maturity should have taught us that debates about legal changes to criminal punishment should be held with a cool head, not in the wake of attention-grabbing events such as this one. That is why all the calls for life sentences and harsher punishment should make their proponents reflect on the words of Patricia Ramírez: “Let her pay whatever she has to pay, but let the kind acts that have emerged from this case be what remains in the end. Everyone for Gabriel.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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