19-J Movement Invades Spanish Streets
This report is surprisingly laudatory for a leading national newspaper.
19-J Movement Invades Spanish Streets
More than 200,000 people protest in the principal cities of the country against the Euro-pact, cuts in social spending, and political corruption. Multitudes invaded the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia in a peaceful, festive, and perfectly organized manner.
El País: El 19-J invade las calles de España
Patricia Ortega Dolz reporting from Madrid June 19, 2011
19-J (19 June) superseded 15-M (15 May). The protest movement which began as a spontaneous reaction to “the injustices” of the prevailing socioeconomic system more than a month ago, continued as a protest camp, spread to neighborhood assemblies, and has been boosted by social networks yesterday once more demonstrated its vitality and above all its great capacity to channel the feelings of restiveness, disenchantment, frustration, and incomprehension of a significant part of the Spanish population.
More than 200,000 people gathered in the country’s principal cities: among them 37,000-42,000 in Madrid according to Lynce, which was contracted by EFE, 98,000 in Barcelona according to this newspaper’s estimate (but 75,000 according to City Hall and 50,000 according to the Catalonia Police), 25,000 in Valencia, 16,000 in Galicia according to the local police’s data, 15,000 in Palma, 5,000 in Seville, and 30,000 in the Canaries. It seems the people understood perfectly well that the violence which transpired in recent days at the Catalan Parliament had nothing to do with the 15-M movement, which has mobilized the nation’s indignant and was protagonized in Barcelona this time judging by previous protests and the multitudes that attended there.
In the Barcelona movements, prior aggression and insults toward Catalan representatives disappeared from the collective imagination following a festive run-through which produced nary an incident. The movement had requested that people inclined to violence not attend, and they didn’t. The movement’s internal security maintained strict control for the length of the protest according to Jesús García. The only incident occurred when two agents of the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalonia Police) were discovered in the crowd. Some people rebuked them, but they were stopped by the collective’s security officials, and the police returned to their vans.
If anyone had doubts about how the movement would respond after raising camp a week ago, they were dissipated. Crowds of people took to the city streets and took places in a massive gesture of reaffirmation of the spirit of “peaceful combat”; the baptized have been labeled quincemayistas (May 15ers) by the writer José Luis Sampedro, who has become one of the theorists of the movement after writing the prologue to Stéphane Hessel’s book Get Angry!. The 15-M movement again demonstrated how difficult it will be for “the system” to look the other way among so much dissatisfaction, so much unemployment (among the old and young), and so many doses of surfeit and deception. This gigantic sentiment of indignation, symbolized and projected to the world from the month-long camp in the Puerta del Sol, has put a check on those at the political and financial levers of the country, and with its lonely but ostensible presence, it is obligating them to reconsider their methods and foundations.
This same week, outraged protesters were at the Bank of Santander shareholders’ meeting, counting to forty at company president Emilio Botín in one more display of how difficult it will be for the system not to acknowledge them.
In Madrid, perfectly organized and synchronized human columns set out from every corner of the capital, the epicenter of the movement from the beginning, to converge at the heart of the representative democracy, the Courts. Their shout upon arriving at the front door of the lower house of Parliament has become another symbol: Que no, que no, que no nos representan! “They don’t, they don’t, they don’t represent us!”
With a national record of nearly 5 million unemployed, the dissatisfied seem to come from all walks of life, disposed to peacefully destroy (using the language of the market economy) any action or reform destined to preserve the current state of things, whether it be in the labor, educational, ecological, or economic sphere.
Just yesterday, many of the banners expressed rejection of the so-called Euro-pact, which was presented in Brussels as a palliative for the crisis which and a spark for competitiveness and which proposes more restrained public spending and moderation of salaries as well as greater labor flexibility. The protesters dismiss the entire packet as “more social and labor cuts” according to Álvaro, student and banner holder for the movement in Madrid.
If 15-M demonstrated anything besides anarchism, the inopportune and excessive violence of a few (protesters and police), and pitched battles with those who refuse to go to the plaza, it is that they are many, for instance Amalia, a retired lady who yesterday took refuge in the shade of some trees near the Paseo del Prado during the demonstration; those who followed her said, “It’s already fine.”