Spain: Huge 'Marches for Dignity' converge in Madrid to demand end to austerity

Hundreds of thousands of protesters from across the Spanish state converged on Madrid on March 22 to oppose austerity measures.

The six columns of the “Marches for Dignity”, protest marches against austerity, corruption and the repression of social and civil rights in the Spanish state, reached Madrid on March 22. Hundreds of thousands of people took over the streets of Madrid that day. It was the crowning moment for a movement that began in early March with marches leaving from cities across the Spanish state.

Below is the manifesto of the Marches for Dignity, organised by collectives bringing together all of the Spanish state's main protest movements.

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Don’t pay the debt! No more cuts! Throw out the governments of the Troika! Bread, work and shelter for all!

We’re starting this year with no improvement for the workers, sunk in an unprecedented capitalist crisis and without any measures on the part of this illegitimate government other than misery, precariousness and repression.

These rulers act as real representatives of big banks, employers and big business, of capitalism, under the command of the “Troika” (the European Commission, the Central European Bank and the International Monetary Fund).

We’re living in a situation where every minute we are being pushed to the brink. It is a situation against which we must all start to give a real, collective, mass answer, by fighting from the grass roots, from our different regions, but with one voice. Because with every day that passes the situation gets more agonising, more difficult.

In the Spanish state, hundreds of thousands of us have lost our homes or don’t receive social security benefits for our families. Six million of us are without paid work. Tens of thousands of working people receive no unemployment benefits at all.

More than a million of us live below the poverty line. And all that’s going down while the Popular Party continues its cuts, destroying and robbing the health system, education, culture, pensions, closing down local television stations that are essential to the survival of minority languages and other public services.

And they go on privatising anything that’s profitable and giving tax benefits to the rich (bankers, big business, the Church, etc.)

There are more than 500,000 of us, young and not so young people, that have been forced to emigrate to try to eke out our living in one way or another. Despite this, they go on shutting down small and medium businesses with impunity, destroying most of the real productive fabric, both industrial and agricultural of the country, which could give work to the majority of the population.

In this context, women have fewer rights: the right to live without male violence or to decide about our own bodies, the right to family planning.

In our country, if you were born somewhere else, if your skin’s a different colour or you have a different religion, they take away your fundamental rights (healthcare, education etc) and can even shut you up in an Internment Centre, even though you’ve committed no crime.

Simply for speaking our own minority language or wanting to live in accordance with the culture of our land, we can be fined or even thrown in jail, as during Franco’s fascist dictatorship, but now they call it democracy.

Fines and criminal penalties, imposed just for exercising the right of freedom of speech or the right to disobey unjust laws, are heavy. But the corrupt elite never go to jail and never have to pay for the damage they cause.

The government continues to hand out money to big building firms, to the energy companies, to bankers and to corrupt businesspeople. But they’re leaving us with no work, no house, no health care, no pensions, no university grants, no schools, no education, no future: in a word, no life.

They’re raising taxes, the price of energy and basic products used by the poor. But they’re reducing to a bare minimum employers’ social security contributions — to “create” work, they cynically say — and they turn a blind eye to huge fraud, corruption and capital flight. And without money, we are left with no house, no job and no wherewithal.

Both the so-called Popular Party and the so-called Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) are guilty. To reduce us to this situation, they signed a treaty with the European Union and an Organic Law to guarantee payment of the debt and, if need be, to suppress any public institution, like the Statute of Autonomy of the Valencian Country, if it doesn’t cut its debt (and thus its provision of public services) whenever and however they want.

We fought with great sacrifice to win our social rights and we’re not just prepared to lose them. We demand the transformation of our economy to make it an economy at the service of human beings and to guarantee that these rights can be universally exercised.

That’s why we demand:

· The abrogation of all the counter-reforms that have been forced down our throats (labour laws, laws affecting pensions, education, the right to safe legal abortion, the law that commodifies health care, the law of civil repression etc).

· A realistic plan against unemployment and a law establishing a basic income.

· An end to all evictions, the guarantee of the fundamental right to housing and to the basic utilities of water and energy.

· Universal, free and high-quality public services.

· Realistic and effective policies to ensure equal opportunities, regardless of a person’s origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or age.

· A guarantee of the reimbursement of the loans made to banks and their nationalisation along with that of of all strategic companies and sectors.

· A fiscal policy that follows the principle those that have more, pay more and public social expenditure is guaranteed above everything else.

· A guarantee of the right to decide, in all spheres — as persons, workers, peoples. We demand real democracy.

In order to build unity and people’s power, we must build the Marches for Dignity so we can arrive in Madrid on March 22 from all the main points of the Spanish state.

We want to live and work with dignity in our land and with our people. To defend all that is and should be ours, struggle is the only way. For bread, a roof, rights and dignity for all workers.

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