Pictures of Madrid's central plaza known as Puerta del Sol bear an uncanny resemblance to Tahrir Square in Cairo following more than a week of demonstrations and an ongoing encampment in protest of the devastating effects of the economic crisis and the Spanish state's collaboration with bankers and business interests to impose austerity.
In Spain’s local elections on May 22, a tsunami of popular rage against the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero spread across this country of five million jobless. The punishment came amid widespread suffering caused by the economic crisis, worsened by the austerity imposed by Zapatero's government to pay for the billions of euros spent bailing out big banks. PSOE bastions since the fall of the Franco dictatorship were swept away.
The central plazas of dozens of cities and towns across Spain bear an uncanny resemblance to Tahrir Square in Cairo. They have been taken over by thousands of demonstrators demanding a "new system". As of May 29, dozens of other central plazas in Spanish cities and towns look the same — taken over by thousands of ordinary people demanding “a new system”. The movement, known as "#spanishrevolution" after the Twitter hashtag used to spread news, pictures and footage of the revolt, began with an internet call for a May 15 protest to demand “Real Democracy Now!”.
May 17 at Plaza del Sol in Madrid. People talk about freedom, democracy and the fight on the streets of Spain. Mostly Spanish-language.
“There are many Joses here, I’m not sure if its my turn or another Jose,” saidJose, a middle-aged man standing on the outer rim of a grupo de trabajo (work group) called at midnight on an adjacent street to Sol, the plaza known as point zero, in the heart of Madrid. The plaza has been occupied, as have dozens around Spain, since the huge protests on May 15 that brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets to demand “real democracy now!” and an end to austerity measures. See also
Spanish people have taken to the streets in huge numbers, with public squares occupied by protesters opposed to anti-worker austerity measures and calling for real democracy. See also Spain eyewitness: The people demand to be heard! Messages of solidarity to the Spanish people from Egypt VIDEO: Spanish revolution -- Testify (largely Spanish-language)
There are more revelations than you can count in the now-infamous Wikileaks cables — a fact highlighted by the arrest and extradition attempts against Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange. But here’s another one that’s been buried, and it definitely hammers home the need to defend not just Wikileaks, but freedom of speech in general.
More than 10 million workers staged a general strike in Spain on September 29 in response to vicious government attacks on their rights and pensions. The huge mobilisation, organised by the Confederacion Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) and Sindicato Union General de Trabajadores (UGT) labour unions, produced a 75% turnout of members, sending a strong message of opposition to the austerity measures. UGT secretary for organisation and communication Jose Javier Cubillo said that in some sectors of the economy, such as steel and energy, support for the strike was close to 100%.
On September 5, the Basque armed group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (Basque Homeland and Freedom, ETA), which has fought an armed struggle for Basque freedom for decades, released a video declaring that several months ago it had decided to stop armed actions, and announced a ceasefire. In its statement, ETA said: “In recent times, the Basque country has been at an important crossroads. The political struggle has opened up new conditions... “The time has come to build a democratic framework for the Basque country respecting the wishes of the majority of the Basque people...
The global carbon market, which trades “pollution rights” to encourage industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions, grew in 2009. Far from signaling a success, this reflects a huge increase in fraud, the dumping of surplus emissions permits by industry, and a rise in financial speculation.
Up to 1.5 million people flooded the streets of Barcelona on July 10 in an enormous demonstration behind a lead banner proclaiming: “We are a nation, we decide.” The turnout exceeded the most optimistic forecasts. Even the most conservative and Spanish-nationalist media admitted this huge protest against the constitutional court’s undermining of Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy was one of the biggest since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975 — and the most important in the history of Catalan nationalism.
Two million Spanish workers participated in a public sector strike on June 8. A general strike in the Basque country has been called for June 29. Spanish unions have called a nationwide general strike for September 29 and the European Trade Union Confederation is currently attempting to organise a Europe-wide general strike to coincide with it.
Resistance is building in Europe against government attempts to force ordinary people to bailout the failed financial system of “casino” capitalism. After four general strikes in Greece this year, and two more planned, strike action is beginning in Spain against planned attacks on public services and welfare.
After the Supreme Court on May 16 banned the Basque party Abertzale Sozialisten Batasuna (ASB) from contesting the May 27 local and regional elections, more than 82,000 Basques signed petitions for the creation of new electoral lists. However hundreds of pro-independence and left candidates in the Basque Country have also been banned on the basis of suspected links to Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA Basque Homeland and Freedom). Some 133 candidate lists of the legal party Accion Nacionalista Vasca (ANV Basque Nationalist Action), which formed in 1931, have also been banned. A statement on May 23 signed by 17 members of the European Parliament described the bans as a serious attack against the most basic civil and political rights in Europe and called for a political, peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Basque Country.
On March 22, 2006, the Basque organisation ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna — Basque Homeland and Freedom) declared a “permanent ceasefire” after more than 40 years of armed struggle, first under the dictatorship of Franciso Franco and then under his appointed successor, Borbon King Juan Carlos. ETA instead called on Basque society to find its way to self-determination through dialogue.