Spanish tourism minister receives red-stained knife, follows death threats to others

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MADRID (Reuters) -Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said on Monday she had received a knife covered in red stains by post, days after senior security officials and a left-wing party leader were sent death threats.

The ministry released a photo showing a small, wood-handled folding knife with a series of red stains running up the blade.

“This is serious…We should be concerned as I’m not a controversial person,” said Maroto, a socialist who has served as minister of industry, trade and tourism since 2018.

“It gives us more strength to defend democracy…Hatred and threats will not silence us,” she told reporters outside the house of parliament.

Police are investigating the package, which arrived at the ministry on Friday and included a return address, she added.

The Spanish government is led by the Socialist Party (PSOE), with the far-left Unidas Podemos as its junior coalition partner.

“Enough! We won’t allow it. We will not let hatred take over coexistence in Spain,” tweeted Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

He joined a chorus of voices from across the political spectrum, including the far-right Vox party, condemning the threats.

Last week, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Pablo Iglesias of Unidas Podemos, and Maria Gamez, who heads the Guardia Civil police force, also received death threats in the mail. 

Without suggesting who might be behind the letters, Marlaska on Monday blamed a culture of political polarisation for allowing hate speech to flourish.

“We have a certain anti-democratic political discourse that we must confront forcefully,” he told La Sexta television.

He linked the threats to the recent vandalism of a feminist mural in Madrid and the defacement of a statue of former socialist Prime Minister Francisco Largo-Caballero.

“All this generates a belief that it is OK to discriminate…against certain groups,” he said.

Tension between right and left has ratcheted up in recent weeks ahead of a regional election in Madrid, where conservative incumbent Isabel Diaz Ayuso is running with the slogan “Communism or Freedom”.

Iglesias, who is standing against her for Unidas Podemos, walked out of a debate on Friday after Rocio Monasterio, his opponent from Vox, questioned whether the threats were real.

He had earlier posted the letter on Twitter alongside a photo of four bullets he said came in the envelope.

“Your wife, your parents and you are sentenced to capital punishment, your time is running out,” the letter read.

Photo Richter Frank-Jurgen – Flickr

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