Friday, 20 May 2011

Report on last Sunday's Spanish demo

On May 15th more than 50,000 people demonstrated in the streets of 50 cities around Spain under one single slogan: “Real democracy now: we aren't merchandise in the hands of politicians and bankers.” For the first time since the Spanish Transition, the demonstrations are not organized by either political parties or trade unions, but by a platform made of citizens, “Democracia real ya”, (Real Democracy Now).

They have both very well founded complaints—more than 21% of the population is unemployed (40% among the youth), the work situation is unstable, social benefits have been dramatically cut in the last year, and political corruption scandals increase every day— and very specific proposals for change. Not one television channel reported on this mass demonstration, just some newspapers told about what was happening. At the end of the day, the police charged and arrested 25 people, some of them minors. A small spontaneous group decided to spend the night in Puerta del Sol (in the center of the city of Madrid), as a way of protest. Meanwhile, a revolution has taken place on the Internet. #15mani has become the third highest ranking twitter hashtag in the world. A never-ending flux of information has crossed the World Wide Web by means of twitter, YouTube, menéame o periodismo humano, partly because the traditional mass media have, simply, ignored the protest. The next morning, all the political parties attempted to discredit the protest, while the number of demonstrators continued to increase. The Spanish public radio labelled the protesters as young bourgeoisie, thus provoking the anger of a listener, Cristina, calling from Burgos, who dedicated to them a series of eloquent words on live radiocast. Then the morning, at 5 a.m., the national police violently cleared the sit-in, formed by pacific people who answered to the police violence screaming “no to violence, no to violence”. The demonstrators, spread out in the adjacent streets, were beaten by the police, charged with €1,500 fines, and dispersed by the national and regional police.

PSOE, the party that is currently in power, appropriates the same discourse it had previously attempted to repress and uploads on its website the manifesto that had originated the protests. On 17th May at 8 p.m, Puerta del Sol in Madrid was the stage of a really mass audience that it is still alive in this moment. The number of Spanish cities joining to this protest is increasing; moreover, the Spanish embassy in London as well as in other European cities, such as Vic in France or Bologna in Italy, are beginning their protests, too. On 17th May, the authorities dismantled another sit-in in Granada violently. Madrid city council installed signal-jammers in order to hold up streaming; in addition, public cameras changed their trip to avoid taking any demonstration images. Only the TV channel Al-Jazeera aired this movement from the beginning, while the Spanish public television showed Pedro Almodovar’s new movie in Cannes Film Festival today. Democracia Real Ya! is a website where you can find the manifesto, proposals, information about the sit-ins and other relevant news, but for unknown reasons people have not been able to access to it for a long time, until 3 am on May 18th. This evening, Esperanza Aguirre’s electoral committee declared the pacific sit-in in Puerta del Sol illegal, although more than 5,000 people are still there fighting for a Real Democracy Now and surrounded by the police. Aguirre argues the sit-in could be damaging for the municipal elections, which are being held this coming Sunday.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

There were several demonstrations in the North of England like in Manchester or in Sheffield. Join the FB-groups "Democracia real YA! Manchester" or "Spanish Revolution SHEFFIELD" for more information!!