riday, May 27th, Plaça Catalunya, Barcelona. There’s a tangible sense of expectation, energy and, above all, anger. Over fifteen thousand people are spilling out of the square and on to the streets around, banging pots and pans, blowing whistles and chanting. There are students and pensioners, children and parents, seasoned activists and first-timers. We, the indignad@s (‘the angry ones’), who together make up hundreds of thousands of people all over Spain, are part of a new wave of protest that has taken inspiration from movements across the Middle East and the Mediterranean, and had been gradually gathering strength among the increasingly frustrated Spanish until it dramatically erupted onto the public agenda in the wake of a mass national demonstration on May 15th, 2011. It brings together a diverse mix of backgrounds and stories, which, despite our differences, are united by a common thread: a deep disenchantment with a political system that is undemocratic and does not represent us, and a rejection of the lies that sustain it.
Their crisis, our cuts Spain, like it’s Mediterranean neighbours, has been hit hard by the economic crisis. Here, working conditions and access to housing were already profoundly precarious and discriminatory; the new problems brought by the effects of the crisis have made for a situation that has become unsustainable. The government has so far responded by making huge, damaging cuts to public services, creating massive job losses and putting millions in danger of poverty and exclusion. In our neighbourhood, for example, the local hospital is at risk: workers and the local community are fighting to keep the casualty department
open 24 hours, so that people can receive emergency care at night. It is the only hospital emergency service in the district. And it’s the same pattern in neighbourhoods across Spain. The government intends to reduce services and restrict access to care: if I moved to Spain now, as an immigrant I would be excluded from free public health care for at least my first six months of residency. The story is, of course, that there is now not enough money to go round, and that huge reductions to public services are essential; but this is simply not true. There are other ways to ‘pay’ for this crisis, which don’t involve taking more from those who have least. Recuperating the 80,000 million euros which are lost to tax fraud would be one, and not handing any more money over to the banks would be another. A couple of years ago we were told that the government would bail out the banks in order to avoid making reforms to public services. Why, then, are the cuts still going ahead? And so on and so forth with their stories. Until one day, a couple of months ago, it seemed that it all came to a head. After a demonstration against the government’s anti-crisis plan, a group in Madrid decided to camp out in the central Plaza del Sol. By the end of the following week, squares all over Spain had become ‘occupied’ with people camping, demonstrating and calling for change. And little by little the movement began to organise itself, until the camps became highly sophisticated mini-communities with any number of commissions and facilities. In Barcelona, the Plaça Catalunya was home to everything from a communal kitchen to an urban allotment, and to commissions dealing with issues as diverse as the logistics of health and conflict mediation at the camp, to ideological debates on immigration, lesbian and gay rights, education, pension reform…
what lies at the root of our protest | 13
Published on Nov 24, 2011
Published on Nov 24, 2011
MFK – Magazin für alternative Freizeitkultur & Kunst widmet sich im DIN-A5-Querformat der lokalen Salzburger Jugendkultur – will aber auch ü...