Spain

The Basque political prisoner Arkaitz Bellon was found dead in his jail cell on February 5, more than 1000 kilometres from his home. The body of the prisoner from Elorrio, who was 36, was found in his bed. Jail authorities say “his death points to natural causes”, but they will carry out a more detailed investigation. Bellon's lawyers and family have petitioned for a doctor they trust to be present at the autopsy. Bellon spent 13 years in prison for acts of sabotage and had the date for his release was set for next May.
Tens of thousands of people marched to Spain's parliament in Madrid on February 1 to protest against a proposed new law that would severely curb access to abortion. Changes to the law would permit abortions to be carried out only in cases of rape or serious risk to health. The rally was organised by dozens of women's groups fighting for reproductive rights. Participants travelled from across the Spanish state to take part, with trains full of protesters arriving in Madrid throughout the day.
Victories are rare in the ongoing struggle against the sell-off of public services in southern Europe. So when one occurs as big as the recent defeat of the Madrid regional government’s plans to privatise hospital and community health centre management, it should be enjoyed to the full. The crowning moment in the 15-month-long battle to keep administration of six hospitals, four specialist centres and 27 community health centres in Madrid in public hands came on January 27. That afternoon, a gloomy regional premier, Ignacio Gonzalez, announced the suspension of the privatisation.
For decade, the People’s Party (PP) of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has believed it had a reliable political gun in its holster ― unbending opposition to any group or proposal that could be portrayed as linked to Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA). ETA is the left-nationalist armed group responsible for more than 800 deaths in its 50-year-long fight against the Spanish state.
Is that a faint glimmer light at the end of the European economic tunnel? Or is it just a bunch of conservative politicians brandishing torches and yelling: “Look, a light at the end of the tunnel”? The “Light-At-The-End-Of-The-Tunnel” mantra is a vital part of conservative government strategy in depressed Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Spain (the European “periphery”). Every skerrick of non-disastrous economic news gets boosted as proof of a coming resurrection ― and one more reason why people should forget about revolt in the streets or ballot box.
Eleven years to the day after the crew of the 80,000 tonne oil tanker Prestige heard the huge bang that marked the start of its break-up and of Europe’s most devastating oil spill, a high court panel in the Galician city of A Coruna delivered its verdict in the case on November 13. Who was guilty of an environmental catastrophe when the tanker broke in two and spilled 63,000 tonnes of sticky, sulphurous fuel oil along 2900 kilometres of Spain’s and France’s Atlantic coast?
The following statement is from the Student Union of Los Herran, a public school in Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque Country. * * * Thousands of high-school students and teachers walked out of class all across Spain on October 26. The strike was in protest against the Legislation for Improving the Quality of Education (LOMCE) reforms proposed by the Spanish education minister Jose Ignacio Wert. Further strikes are planned.
If you were asked to pick a TV network in Spain least likely to be occupied and managed by its workers, you would probably choose Radio and Television Valencia’s (RTVV) Channel Nine. Worker control over this mouthpiece for the corrupt People’s Party (PP) government of Valencia would seem about as likely as worker control of Australia's Nine Network. Yet, at the time of writing, in response to a bid to close down the station, RTVV Channel Nine is being run by its employees.
Anyone in Spain with the slightest understanding of human rights’ law knew that the Grand Chamber (full bench) of the European Court of Human Rights was bound to reject the appeal of the Spanish government over the case of convicted Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA) prisoner Ines del Rio. For decades, ETA waged an armed struggle for independence for the Basque Country from the Spanish state. In 2011, it declared a “permanent ceasefire”, ending its armed campaign.
Who was that odd-looking group on bicycles, those white-legged very English-looking people pedalling through the hectic Barcelona traffic? Why were they wearing t-shirts in the colours of the second Spanish Republic (1931-1939), with the words “¡No Pasarán!” embroidered on their sleeves?

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