Spain’s Tahrir Square


Spain’s people’s movement has finally awoken. La Puerta del Sol in Madrid is now the country’s Tahrir Square, and the "Arab Spring" has been joined by what is now bracing to become a long "European Summer." As people across the Arab world continue their popular struggle for justice, peace and democracy, Spain’s disillusioned citizens have finally caught on with full force. Slow at first, hopeful that Spain’s dire economic conditions would magically correct themselves, the Spanish street has finally understood that democratic and economic justice and peace will not come from the pulpits of the country’s corrupt political elite.
Amidst local and regional election campaigns, with the banners of the different political parties plastered across the country’s streets, people are saying ‘enough!’ Disillusioned youth, unemployed, pensioners, students, immigrants and other disenfranchised groups have emulated their brothers in the Arab world and are now demanding a voice – demanding an opportunity to live with dignity.  
As the country continues to explode economically, with unemployment growing incessantly – one in two young people unemployed across many of the country’s regions. With many in the crumbling middle class on the verge of losing their homes while bankers profit from their loss and the government uses citizen taxes to expand the military industrial complex by going off to war; the people have grasped that they only have each other if they are to rise from the debris of the militarized political and economic nightmare in which they have found themselves.   
Spain is finally re-embracing its radical past, its popular movements, its anarcho-syndicalist traditions and its republican dreams. Crushed by Generalissimo Francisco Franco seventy years ago, it seemed that Spanish popular culture would never recover from the void left by a rightwing dictatorship, which exterminated anyone with a dissenting voice; but the 15th of May 2011, is the reminder to those in power that Spanish direct democracy is still alive and has finally awaken.
In the 1970’s a transition through pact, transformed Spain’s totalitarian structures into a representative democracy in which all the economic structures remained intact. For the highly illiterate generations of the time, marred in the reality of a poverty-stricken country, the concessions made by the country’s elite seemed something worth celebrating. Nevertheless, as the decades passed, the state-owned corporations were privatized robbing the nation of its collective wealth, and the political scene crystallized into a pseudo-democracy in which two large parties PP and PSOE marginalized truly democratic alternatives. As this neoliberal political project materialized, the discontent begun to resurface, but the fear mongers, Spain’s baby-boomers who had once fought for democracy, were quick to remind the youth of the dangers of rebellion. For many decades in Spain, the mantra was, "it is better to live as we are than to go back to the totalitarianism of the past, and if you shake the system too much, it will take away our hard-earned rights." So the youth remained silent, fearful of what could happen if they spoke, and the baby-boomers in their content blamed the youth for their indifference. According to them, it was the youth unwilling to work, which were bringing the country to its knees. But the youth have stopped this blame game, and aware of the true risks to their future are finally enticing the whole country to mobilize.
A failed European project, with its borders quickly being reinstated, a collapsing Euro currency, and the examples of Greece, Portugal and Ireland are the reminders to those on the streets of what it is they are fighting to disassociate themselves from, and of the freedoms they are working towards. The economic and political project of the country’s elite has destroyed the economic dreams of whole generations of naïve and apathetic Spaniards; it has left the country in the hands of bond speculators and central bankers, and Spaniards will have to pay that price. Nevertheless, the debt accumulated by the Spanish family, has also earned it the education with which it can understand what is going on, and through it Spanish people will liberate themselves from the tyranny of their government.
What has begun in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and has been echoed in fifty-two cities across the country is the crystallization of a popular movement for freedom, which has no intention of fading away. The people have no choice, either they take city squares as symbols of their struggle, or their message is never heard. The government knows this and that is why it has quickly responded by trying to disperse the crowds with its repressive police force, but following some arrests, the people are back with more strength.
A silent revolution has begun in Spain, a nonviolent revolution which seeks democracy through democratic means, justice through just means, and peace through peaceful means has finally captivated the imagination of the Spanish people, and now there is no turning back. The challenge ahead will be in keeping the collective spirit nonviolent as the police force does everything in its power to disintegrate the movement into a violent chaos that can justify its repression. The popular movement will also have to be alert as the bond speculators threaten the country with economic sanctions in order to scare the population into submission, and a constructive program will have to be articulated so that the movement can continue to function whilst providing sustainable alternatives for a different Spain.
Hopefully an articulate steering committee will flourish soon from amongst the crowds, which is capable of making clear and viable demands that grab the imagination of the country and force the political elite to comply. These are delicate times in Spain, if this spontaneous nonviolent movement succeeds, Spain may welcome a brighter future, if it fails, I fear violence will become the only option for those in pain. What those outside of the country can do for Spain is to echo the shouts of indignation coming from the country’s streets. So far both mainstream and progressive international media channels have opted for silence. Let us hope this silence breaks.

Photo: Thousands of people in several cities across Spain are demanding "real democracy." (Antonio Rull/cc by 2.0/Flickr)

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  • From Tahrir to Puerta del Sol:

    Posted by themba Lewis, 05/30/2011 7:31pm (13 years ago)

  • Aren't these Spanish Tea Partiers protesting the results of Socialist policies?

    Posted by Gary, 05/21/2011 7:02am (13 years ago)

  • Cheers! for the people of Spain! Throw out the speculators and big bankers. End corporate influence!

    Posted by miguel domingueq, 05/20/2011 10:47am (13 years ago)

  • Great post, sharp view

    Posted by Oriol, 05/20/2011 8:57am (13 years ago)

  • I think you are writing about something in your imagination, about what you want it's happening in Spain, but not about what is actually happening here. Your post is very negative about the protesters (they are not as radical as you wanted) and the answer from the police and goverment (everything it's being peacefull so far). Probably good for increasing your reader's imagination, but not the real events. The protesters are not asking for those radical things, they want a change of the way of doing things, not only a change of the party at the goverment. That's why they blame both the goverment and the opposition. This is NOT the same as the arab revolution, they are completely different, although the way they show their disagreement is the same, crowds on big squares. But the future is not what you state it will happen, it will be

    As long as they remain peaceful and ask for a politics regeneration and real election procedures (not party based but more people based) I'll support them. But I'm one of those you mention I prefer not to shake the system too much because of the reminds of 50 years ago. A bad system that will take 5-10 years to recover itself is better than a violent revolution followed by a 50 years of dictatorship or authoritarianism (either rightwinged or leftwinged, same shit).

    Posted by zoolookie, 05/19/2011 11:11am (13 years ago)

  • What it is happening in Spain has NOTHING to do with what happened in the Tahrir square... Please don't confuse people...

    Posted by Fernando, 05/19/2011 7:54am (13 years ago)

  • Have you ever been in Spain, Pablo Ouziel?

    Of what country are you talking about?

    Are you a Communist? Anarchist? Both?

    I've never read so many lies in that a short space!

    People in Spain are angry against the Socialist party, people in Spain are angry against progresism. And people in Spain are angry against their politicians, so far away of the real live.

    Posted by Xavi, 05/19/2011 6:59am (13 years ago)

  • I totally agree with this article, and I just wanted to provide my personal position about this. I am just a 33 years old worker, not affiliated to any political party, and I have no more interest than thinking and evaluating everything happening around me. I have found a manifesto that has been spreading throughout social networks since yesterday and I feel it represents my thoughts (!/photo.php?fbid=10150201271451593&set=a.10150201266551593.305620.756016592&type=1&theater), so I will (try to) translate it:

    Everyone together, at last:

    It is necessary to focus all this movement of tired citizens. And it is urgent, because everybody is trying to use it on their own benefit. So let's do it:

    Spanish democracy is like Chanquete's ship [1]: It is aground. And this movement wants to refloat it. Among us there are socialists, conservatives, liberals... People who, once that ship floats, will want it to head either course. But before that, we all have to make it float. And that is what every branch of this movement must have in mind: The boat is the spanish cemocratic system, and the courses are the ideologies. What this movement has in common is the main and first step: the repairing of that system. That means:

    1-Reform of the Election Law so every spanish citizen's vote, wherever he or she lives, counts equally when they are translated into Congress seats.

    2-True separation of powers: Total independency between Justice and Government. Reform of the Senate to make it more useful and not just a simple procedure for the Congress.

    3-Political regeneration: Open slates, supression of public funding political parties, permanent prohibition from assuming public office for those convicted of corruption, supression of unjustified privileges linked to public office, publication of personal assets prior, during and after their term of office.

    And once this achieved, there will be election.. And in that election every political party will propose all those concepts they proclaim. At the present moment, those concepts are clouding and dispersing the main message: regeneration of the system (say nationalize the banks, say right of decent housing, say reduce government employees, say centralization, say decentralization, say secular state... whatever). Because the real enemies of this movement want us to get into these subsequent points, so we forget what really unite us, so we split up before we can achieve anything. We must resist temptation to look after one's own interests, we must keep ourselves from shouting for anything that cannot be shouted in unison by every outraged spaniard, no matter if socialist or conservative. Because for the first time in spanish democracy, "las dos Españas" aren't fighting each other: left wing and right wing aren't facing off. So don't let the same as always (PSOE and PP [2]) use us and turn all this movement into that.

    ¿How do we spread the word?
    -Telling everybody these three clear and specific points.
    -Following #nolesvotes directions: look for a party among the 3000+ in Spain which contains these three points in its manifesto (or at least, as close as possible to them) and vote for it.
    -Tell again your friends, family and mates who you are voting for and why.

    And that's what all this is about: everyone together like in Fuenteovejuna [3]
    Nothing more, nothing less.

    [1]: Mention to a popular TV character;

    Posted by Carlos Rodriguez Laiz, 05/19/2011 6:24am (13 years ago)

  • Support the #spanishrevolution...

    Posted by Kropotkin, 05/19/2011 5:08am (13 years ago)

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