Spain: On the case of the prisoner in struggle Noelia Cotelo Riveiro

Noelia Cotelo Riveiro is a young woman from A Coruña, Galicia (northwestern Spain). Her sentence to serve was set at a year and a half, after stealing a car to buy some drugs. Inside the prison, the situation became complicated, and she has defended herself from the jailers. Now, five years later, she is still imprisoned.

On October 23rd, 2012, Noelia was speaking with her mother on the phone, explaining to her what was going on inside the Brieva prison (in Ávila, central Spain). At some point, a female guard urged her to finish the conversation, screaming at her: “YOU BASTARD SCUM, GET OFF THE PHONE”, but she refused. After a row with the humanguard, five other jailers forced her to drop the telephone by grabbing her wrist strongly and breaking it. They moved her to the cell and left her handcuffed to the bed until the following day, with no medical assistance at all. The next day, at the suggestion of the prison doctor, she was transferred to a hospital to be treated. The injuries and the prescribed treatment are detailed in the medical report.

During the night of October 23rd until the morning of the 24th, Noelia was sleeping handcuffed to the bed in her cell. She woke up and caught one guard by the name of Jesús (who had participated in the aforementioned assault) touching her breast and chest. Caught unawares and attempting to conceal his identity, the jailer threw the contents of a water bottle at Noelia’s face. Prisoners in adjacent cells were awakened by the row and the jailer’s flight.

Additionally, it seems that one of Noelia’s suitcases (with her winter clothes) was stolen from the warehouse of the prison facility. Apparently, her clothes were distributed to the rest of the prisoners, since one of them, María Luisa, gave Noelia back some of her pieces of clothing.

As we all know, this is not an isolated occurrence; we want to report Noelias’s situation, as well as those of many other imprisoned women and men who are systematically assaulted. Noelia had just been transferred from the prison of Picassent (Valencia), where she had filed a complaint because of ill-treatment.

After this and filing a new complaint, Noelia started a hunger strike as a means for protesting, reporting and rebelling against her situation, and making visible the acts that the system silences. Nonetheless, she had to quit after only 5 days because the prison guards used her mother’s visitation time to blackmail her and pressure her to abandon the protest.

During the month of November, a female guard slammed the cell door on Noelia’s broken hand; she was denied medical treatment; she was forced to take cold water showers; her communications were tapped and, in order to isolate her, she was denied visits while her visitation hours were reduced. In early December, Noelia was served meals on a pre-arranged tray while the rest of the prisoners could watch their food being served. Immediately after eating, Noelia would sleep until nightfall, which was not her usual habit. She was not allowed to check her food.

On December 9th, a march was called to the Brieva prison in support of Noelia and against the daily torture and abuse suffered in prisons. Dozens of people showed up to show support and solidarity with our comrade. Despite the strong presence of the Guardia Civil (military police), it was a positive experience. Cops were not able to break the bonds created by the shouts of support from the women inside that we could hear through the walls of the prison.

On December 14th, anarchist prisoner Juan Carlos Rico Rodríguez expressed his solidarity with Noelia through the following communiqué:

Today, I learned through some friends that a comrade in the women’s prison-slaughterhouse of Brieva has been tortured and that the prison guards have even tried to sexually harass her (something that is not “abnormal” at all in the Spanish slaughterhouses). Our comrade is called Noelia Cotelo.

My daughter Noelia (12 years old) and my other daughter Selena (16 years old) are also imprisoned; Noelia is in Valladolid (1, Pajarillos street) and Selena is in Ávila, another youth detention facility, as prisons for children are euphemistically called. I’ve been imprisoned for 14 years. Yet, I am perfectly aware that in a patriarchal society such us ours, imprisoned women carry a double burden: their status as prisoners and as WOMEN.

I cannot eliminate the direct culprits of this violence against women in the institutions of STATE MURDER with my own hands (which is what these tyrants deserve). Therefore, I want to express my SOLIDARITY, not only with Noelia and my daughters, but also extend it to every woman in the world who suffers the TORTURE of prison.

We should bear in mind that any kind of system that inflicts this kind of treatment on the “female” population inside their prison slaughterhouse, as well as those who sustain it, is an ill system/person. And such “illness” should be pulled up by the roots, whatever the cost. As an answer to this cruelty, I will fast symbolically on December 24th, 25th and 31st, 2012 and on January 1st and 6th, 2013.


This is also a call to the “free society”: REVENGE!

Juan Carlos Rico Rodríguez
Aranjuez Prison Slaughterhouse
(1st Wing, Madrid, Spain)

On January 14th, 2013 we were informed that, after the riots in late December in the prison of Brieva, Noelia’s yard hours were reduced from 3 hours to 1 hour per day – or occasionally just half an hour. What’s more, the prison guard who had sexually attacked her filed a counter-complaint against Noelia (!) saying that she was the assailant; now she is the one who is suffering the consequences, spending 28 days in isolation.

After all the above, our comrade is still not willing to contribute to her own silence and fit in the mold. Noelia decided to start an indefinite hunger strike on January 8th, with the support of her fellow prisoners in struggle. Her aim is to be released from the Brieva prison and to return near her family, in Galicia. Her demands are:

* An end to mistreatment, torture, degrading treatment, beatings and verbal abuse in all prisons;

* An end to collusion between doctors and judges;

* Not one more incident of sexist violence against women, no more hazing and not one more sexual assault. No more male jailers in the women wings and prisons;

* That no law or sentence can separate a family. No to the dispersion of those in prison. Each person should stay near their place of birth. No more constant transfers from prison to prison;

* That all the people in prison be treated with dignity, that they are provided with their medical treatments, that they are attended by the necessary medical staff. That health service, something so universal, reaches them all. No more DEATHS in prisons. Enough medical malpractice;

* That we are told no more lies – rehabilitation is not humiliation. We do not need to be assimilated into anywhere, we need respect. Hatred and violence only generate more hatred and violence;

* That the so-called transparency reaches the penitentiary institutions and anything related to them. No more impunity. No more coverups of state murders;

* That this farce comes to an end. That poverty is not punished with imprisonment; that prisons do not make their living off of poor people. That this mercantilist system ends. We are people, not coins!

On January 16th Noelia asked to visit the doctor because she had an ear infection that had spread to her mouth, becoming very inflamed. But the prison guards replied that no doctors would receive her, although if she wanted to, a jailer called Adelardo would attend her. A while earlier, this same jailer gave her an incorrect dose of methadone and almost caused her to overdose. When he arrived Noelia asked him if she could go to a doctor. He replied that she did not need a doctor because she would die there. After this incident with the jailer Adelardo, Noelia was moved to another cell with an open window… just perfect for her ear infection – note that there is no heating in the prison of Brieva (where the highest temperatures are 10ºC) and that most of her winter clothes were stolen.

On January 25th there was a call at Paeria square in Lleida in support of Noelia, who is still on hunger strike.

Noelia is not alone! Down with prisons! No more prisoners!

If you want to write her and show your support:
Noelia Cotelo Riveiro, CP. Brieva, Ctra. de Vicolozano; 05194 Brieva (Ávila), Spain

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