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?
In the first week of October, primary and secondary teachers on Spain’s Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera) voted by large majorities to suspend their indefinite strike. The strike was against education cuts and a new tuition method that would downgrade Balearic Catalan as the local education system’s main language of instruction. Language The Balearic variant of Catalan has been the language of the islands for 800 years, but was effectively outlawed during Spain's Franco dictatorship (1939 to 1975).
A crowd of at least 60,000 marched through central Bilbao on October 5 in protest against the arrest of 18 activists of Herrira (“To The People”) by the Spanish state. The group advocates for the rights of Basque political prisoners. The march was called by EH Bildu, the left-nationalist alliance in the Basque regional parliament, as well as by the two Basque nationalist trade union confederations and 50 other social movements. It came after a wave of local protests against the raid on Herrira.
The school year should have already begun on the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula), but it hasn’t. Since September 16, high school and primary teachers have been on an indefinite strike. In Palma, capital of Mallorca, up to 6000 teachers have been demonstrating daily outside the main government building. When the ceremony marking the start of the Balearic Islands’ university term was held, a swathe of lecturers walked out to express their solidarity with the thousands of teachers protesting outside.
About 1.6 million Catalans linked arms to form the Via Catalana, a 400 kilometre human chain demanding a referendum on independence for their country, to mark Catalonia’s national day (the Diada) on September 11. The country has been a region of the Spanish state since September 11, 1714, when a besieged Barcelona finally fell to the Borbon coalition of France and Spain. Amazing success
A man is sitting in a cell of the Soto del Real prison on the outskirts of Madrid, plotting the downfall of the People’s Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. He is blind with rage and determined to use everything he knows to annihilate Rajoy and his cabinet. The man is not a left-wing activist. He is a former senator and national treasurer of the party whose leaders he now loathes. His name is Luis Barcenas, known in PP inner circles as “Luis the Arsehole”. He has accumulated up to €48 million in Swiss, Uruguayan and other bank accounts.
The latest opinion polls in the Spanish state have stirred concern in the elites, hopes on the left and storms of comment in the media. Nationally, they show the radical federation United Left (IU) closing the gap on the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). In the June Metroscopia poll, IU trailed just 4.7% behind the PSOE (16.8% to 21.5%). Regionally, Spanish social democracy’s decline is most advanced in Catalonia and Galicia. In Madrid city council IU would jump from 10.7% to 20.5% of the vote, just 1.6% behind the PSOE.
Jose Maria Aznar, Spain’s messianically neoliberal former prime minister, announced during a television interview on May 21 that he was ready again to serve his country. “I will act in accordance with my responsibility, my conscience, my party and my country, regardless of consequences, have no doubt about that”, intoned the Popular Party (PP) leader who took Spain to war in Iraq. Aznar was defeated in the 2004 national election after claiming that the Madrid train bombing was the work of Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA).
The citizens of the Spanish state awoke on April 14 to shocking news ― acts of “pure Nazism” were spreading across the country. Not only that, but they were being organised in concert with “elements close to ETA” (the armed Basque independence group that has declared a permanent ceasefire). Who was responsible? A Spanish equivalent of the Greek neo-Nazi outfit Golden Dawn? Some surviving cell of the Falange (one-time shock troops of the Franco dictatorship and admirers of Hitler’s New Order in Europe)?
Nearly 10 years after the Spanish high court outlawed previous Basque left nationalist political groups, the movement has finally given birth to a new legal party ― Sortu (“to create” or “to be born” in Basque). The new arrival is a powerful force for Basque independence and progressive politics in the Spanish state ― socialist, feminist, ecologically aware and staunchly internationalist.
Jesus Posada, the right-wing People’s Party (PP) speaker of the national Spanish Congress of Deputies, received a delegation on February 12 presenting a People’s Legislative Initiative (ILP). The initiative had the support of more than 1.4 million signatories, 900,000 more than required by law.
Political tensions within the Spanish state have reached a new pitch after the January 23 declaration by the Catalan parliament of Catalonia’s sovereign right to decide its political future. Antagonism is intensifying between the Catalan and national governments and polarisation continues to rise among and within all main political forces.
Politics in the Spanish state is a Rubik’s cube where all players must mark out their position on the axis of the rights of its nationalities, as well as class struggle and social justice. All-out warfare on both fronts marked the final week of the campaign for the November 25 elections for the Catalan parliament, as the nine parties with a chance of winning representation in its 135-seat chamber traded blows.
The European Day of Action and Solidarity involved a 24-hour general strike in Portugal and Spain, partial strikes in Italy, Greece, Belgium, Cyprus and Malta, and protests in 16 other European countries on November 14. Despite the main action being confined to the Iberian peninsula, the day was a big success, with 40 union confederations and individual unions involved.
A general strike was launched across Europe on November 14 as millions are protesting spending cuts and tax hikes they say have deepened the region’s economic crisis. Spanish and Portuguese workers are coordinating their strike with work stoppages underway in Greece, Italy, France and Belgium.
On the morning of October 22, the day after parliamentary elections in the Basque and Galician autonomous communities of the Spanish state, the TV and radio political pundits were struggling to be wise. Their powers of analysis were not tested so much by the rise of EH Bildu, the Basque left-nationalist coalition — the polls had predicted its 25% vote. The disorienting new phenomenon was result for the Galician Left Alternative (AGE). Not predicted