to be able to publish this eyewitness report from Fran Bowman of the Fightback Editorial Board who is in Madrid and has been able to participate in the demonstrations
to be able to publish this eyewitness report from Fran Bowman of the Fightback Editorial Board who is in Madrid and has been able to participate in the demonstrations.
An old man, passing by, took the loudspeaker in one of the
many afternoon meetings at Puerta del Sol and vented his anger and
frustration; too small pension a to live on, very expensive rent, fear
that his grandchildren won’t have a future and lack of democracy.
Everyone has something to say, something to demand and, above all, the opportunity to express it. The atmosphere is festive also.
The occupation of a central space in Madrid and the defiance of the
prohibition to do so gives a sense of empowerment to people who never
normally have a say in how things are run in society.
Since the 15th of May thousands of people have been
demonstrating in the Puerta del Sol square to demand real democracy.
The square, which is just a little smaller than the pitch at Croke Park,
has a capacity for 30,000 people. The attempt of the Spanish Electoral
Board (Junta Electoral) to prohibit demonstrations and the constant
pressure from right wing media and politicians to disband the
demonstrators by using force has only helped to increase the number of
people in the square.
generally claim that democracy is respect for the law and that you can
have your say by voting once every four years. But this type of so
called “liberal democracy” rea ched its limits long ago and the people
don’t feel represented. The chanting is loud and also long; “qué no, qué
no, qué no nos representan” (they don’t represent us). From time to
time the protestors also address the media: “Televisión, manipulación”
which needs no translation.
During the day people of all ages circulate around
the stalls, take part in meetings or assemblies, or discuss in small
groups. Wherever you go, you hear people expressing their anger and
frustration against salaries of between €600 and €1000 per month, high
levels of unemployment, and the fear of being fired… But they don’t stop
there. It is not a matter of replacing one party by another in the
government; the problem is the system, capitalism, the dictatorship of
the markets, the bankers and the big corporations. They are the ones
represented by the political parties of the establishment. That is what
you can hear all around.
The media is constantly guessing who is behind the
protests. There are prejudices against politics among the youth and the
old and they want to exploit them by demanding a non-political protest.
They fear, of course, revolution. But the protests are political because
they are about power, about popular power. Many protestors argue: “No
somos antisistema, somos anticapitalistas (we are not antisystem, we are