Rapper’s Arrest Awakens Rage in Spanish Youth Chafing in Pandemic

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It is an instance of déjà vu for those who also lived through the financial crisis of 2008, which took one of its heaviest tolls in Spain. Like then, young people have had to move back into the homes of their parents, with entry-level jobs being among the first to vanish.

But unlike past economic downturns, the pandemic cut much deeper. It hit at a time when unemployment for people under age 25 was already high in Spain at 30 percent. Now 40 percent of Spain’s youth are unemployed, the highest rate in Europe, according to European Union statistics.

For someone like Mr. Pi, the arrest of the rapper Mr. Hasél, and his rage-against-the-machine defiance, has become a symbol of the frustration of Spain’s young people.

“I loved that the man left with his fist in the air,” said Mr. Pi, who said he hadn’t heard of the rapper before Spain brought charges against him. “It’s about fighting for your freedom, and he did it to the very last minute.”

The case of Mr. Hasél, whose real name is Pablo Rivadulla Duró, is also igniting a debate about free speech and Spain’s efforts to limit it.

The authorities charged Mr. Hasél under a law that allows for prison sentences for certain kinds of incendiary statements. Mr. Hasél, known as a provocateur as much as a rapper, had accused the Spanish police of brutality, compared judges to Nazis and even celebrated ETA, a Basque separatist group that folded two years ago after decades of bloody terrorist campaigns that left around 850 people dead.

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