Finally the spirit of revolt has come back to the Spanish state, after years of weak resistance against the crisis and the decision of the two main unions, CCOO and UGT, to sign a deal last January which put the brakes on the mobilisation they had begun with the general strike of 29 September. It ended simply as a one day respite from their usual partnership unionism.
Nobody expected that movement. The demonstrations of May 15th were organized by a movement called "real democracy" which began through the internet. The demonstrations were bigger than expected (25,000 in Madrid, 15,000 in Barcelona) and the number of demonstrations was also very large.
Then, suddenly, after the demonstrations the occupation of plaza del Sol in Madrid began spontaneously. The police intervention to stop it made the movement stronger and helped to expand it through all the country. There are now more than 60 camps in the central squares of several cities in the Spanish State, the ones in Madrid and Barcelona being the most important.
The way in which the movement has expanded, its dynamism, the role of the youth and so on…it’s something that we had not seen since the upsurge of the anti-globalization movement (that in the Spanish state emerged strongly in the year 2000). The polls show big public support for the demonstrations.
The protests have two main axes: a strong criticism of professional politicians and against bankers. We feel that all this will be the beginning of a new protest cycle that will expand in the upcoming months.
The Central Electoral Authority has banned the protested for today (the day before the election) and tomorrow. It’s not likely that the police will intervene because this would create an enormous social reaction. More than 20.000 people were yesterday night in Madrid and a little bit less in Barcelona.
The dynamics of self organization in Pl. del Sol and Pl. Catalunya are impressive (food, cleaning, massive daily meetings.)
Tomorrow the camps will decide what to do but in principle they will try to keep them going on longer.
We are trying to launch an international call to spread the camps worldwide and organize an international day of action by mid-june.
Greetings from Barcelona’s Tahrir Square,
Josep Maria Antennas
A longer article by Esther Vivas and Josep Maria Antennas on the protests in Spain can be found on International Viewpoint.