Arab Spring Brings Forth European Summer

Posted: May 18, 2011 in Europe, International, Spain

There is no denying that 2011 has been the year for revolution, what has been seen across the Arab world has been amazing and now the spirit spreads further. On May 15th dozens of thousands of Spanish citizens of all ages have taken to the squares of almost 50 cities within the 15M Movement, which defends “a true democracy now!” and points the finger of the difficult economic and social situation to the “bipartisan system”- PSOE and Popular Alliance. The participants in these camps are mainly unemployed, young precarious, workers without a contract who fail to earn a thousand euros per month, immigrants, teachers, workers who have been equally loosing social rights and purchasing power, retired. Although a young camper testified that since Monday, “the average age of participants has risen”.

On the ground, the people have self-organized themselves into various committees, so that the common life of citizens is not adversely affected by their presence in the square. From garbage collection, to separation of materials for recycling, to the Internet functioning, to security, to distribution and promotion of initiatives, the volunteers take care of their tasks, often almost without being noticed. The frequent rains that have fallen did not demobilized those gathered; and despite the convocations running in the social networks establishing 8pm each day as the moment for the concentration and for a minute of a “silent scream” against the crisis, that is normally followed right after by a storm of applauses, thousands of people pass by the Puertas del Sol throughout the day.

The unemployment rate in Spain is above 20 percent of the population of which more than 40 per cent aged under 25 years; the austerity measures imposed by the government by the troika’s decision (IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank) even without the known shenanigans of the bailouts as in Portugal, Ireland and Greece, have gradually come to attack and dismantle labour rights and the social security system step by step.

“The political class lives faraway from the citizens, we have the right to indignation”, declared one of the protesters while taking care of one of the tents. At his sides, companions stressed that the criticisms to the politics did not represent contesting the party system, but an appropriation of democratic mechanisms by two parties that took over the State. One of them, echoing the Movement M15 slogans, added that the movement does not defend abstention, quite the contrary, appeals to voting. “What we say is ‘do not vote these two parties in’”, he added. “If you prevent us from dreaming we will prevent you from sleeping”, stressed Juan López, a slogan that has become popular across this movement. Despite the lack of reporting done by the mainstream global media the word is spreading fast with camps being set up in solidarity all over the world.

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