Home | Friday 20th May 2011 | Issue 772
MADRID FER IT
Thousands of youths have occupied Madrid’s main plaza in protest against austerity hit Spain’s economic and political situation.
Fuelled by youth unemployment of over 40%, the protests began on Sunday (15th) with a march of a few hundred students. Police arrested 19 for public order offences and damage to public property.
Undeterred, hundreds more returned on Monday with some staying on to set up camp. However, at 5am the following morning police violently evicted the campers.
The eviction acted as a catalyst for further protests and by Wednesday around 10,000 had gathered at the Puerta del Sol. Sensing strong popular support for change, the city council promptly declared the demonstration illegal. Despite this police had clearly grown tired of fanning the flames of revolt and decided to skulk around the edges of the square all night, rather than attempt another eviction.
Most of the credit for the uprising has gone to group called ‘¡Democracia Real YA!’ (Real Democracy Now!) whose slogan is “We are not commodities in the hands of politicians and bankers”. They are avowedly pacifist and unaligned to any political party. Organised mainly by ordinary people communicating through Facebook and Twitter, what started out as a relatively small march has turned into a mass occupation of the capital’s square - sound familiar?
As of Thursday (19th) evening, there are still thousands occupying the centre of Madrid, with similar demonstrations across Spain. Protesters plan to stay on until, at least, the regional elections on Sunday (22nd), but with the result unlikely to pacify the masses, they could be in for the long haul. Politicians, on the other hand, are pushing for the protesters to be removed before the polls open.
With political campaigning illegal the day before elections, things could come to a head on Saturday.
*For the latest news from the Spanish front search twitter for #spanishrevolution or #nonosvamos.