Europe

Spain: Thousands 'march for dignity' in Madrid

Thousands of demonstrators from across Spain gathered in Madrid’s main Colon Square on March 21 to protest against continuing harsh government austerity measures. Nine columns of demonstrators, who had been on the march for several days, converged on the plaza.

Labelled Marches for Dignity, at least 20,000 people packed Colon Square, carrying republican flags and banners calling for a general strike.

Ireland: Huge water protest keeps pressure on government

Nearly 90,000 people took to the streets of Dublin on March 21, in an unprecedented fifth mass protest in six months against the introduction of water charges by the Irish government.

The sea of flags, banners and placards was addressed by a range of politicians, community activists and union leaders.

The protest was organised by the Right2Water campaign — a broad coalition of community groups, NGOs and political parties, led by some of Ireland’s largest unions.

Spain: Podemos gains in Andalusia poll, but government holds ground

The March 22 regional elections in Andalusia, Spain’s most populous and second-poorest region, opened this year's critical election calendar.

This election cycle includes local government and 13 regional elections on May 24 and a September 27 poll in Catalonia that will double as an independence referendum. It will culminate in national Spanish elections in November.

The future course of politics in the Spanish state and Europe will greatly depend on the results of these contests.

Global campaign demands: ‘Free Otegi, bring Basque prisoners home’

An international campaign for the release of jailed Basque pro-independence leader Arnaldo Otegi was launched at a conference in the European Parliament in Brussels on March 24.

A statement calling for Otegi’s release was announced at the conference, which has been endorsed by international figures including former Latin American presidents, Nobel Prize winners, political representatives and former political prisoners.

Greece defies EU, passes anti-poverty law

Greece’s parliament passed what it called a “humanitarian crisis” bill on March 18 in order to help the poorest sectors of its population.

In a move opposed by representatives from the European Union, the government of left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pushed for housing allowances and emergency food aid to people in need.

Germany: Mass arrests at anti-austerity protest

Anti-riot police attacked protesters gathering against the inauguration of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) new headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 18. Reuters said more than 550 people were arrested.

Police used pepper gas and water cannons to open a path to the entrance of the building, which was being blocked by demonstrations. A minority of protesters threw stones or other projectiles and set fire to at least seven police cars. More than 100 protesters were reported to be injured.

Ireland: Welfare fight threatens power-sharing

Sinn Fein MLA and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness indicated on March 9 that his party would oppose the new welfare reform bill in the northern Irish Assembly in the six Irish counties still occupied by Britain.

McGuinness accused government partners the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of acting in bad faith. Sinn Fein is in a power-sharing arrangement as part of the Good Friday peace agreement signed in 1998, which sought to end the violence that had wracked Ireland's north since the 1ate 1960s, known as The Troubles.

Greece: Solidarity centres push change from below

I visited Athens recently as part of a solidarity delegation from the British party Left Unity. On January 25, the day before radical left party SYRIZA’s election victory, two of us were fortunate enough to take part in a tour of some of the self-organising structures in Athens supported by the Solidarity for All network.

Greece, Venezuela strengthen partnership, discuss new deals

Venezuela has proposed trade and economic agreements that would make Athens one of Caracas' main trading partners, TeleSUR English said on March 7. The proposal came as Venezuela and Greece solidified their partnership when Venezuelan officials visited the European country to meet the new SYRIZA government.

Venezuela's foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez met new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on March 6. The two parties discussed furthering cooperation agreements, particularly in technology, industry, trade, shipping, energy, commerce and tourism.

Debate: Pilger wrong on Yugoslavia

In his latest article “New threats of war and fascism” (GLW #1045), John Pilger gives a distorted account of the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

He condemns the “criminal record” of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA), but seems to absolve the Serbian government of any wrongdoing.

In reality Serbian chauvinism, promoted by the Slobodan Milosevic's government, was central to the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s amid the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The formation of the KLA was a response to the chauvinist politics of the Serbian regime.

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