Launched a Revolution Spain
Saturday 18 June 2011
Just a few months ago,
The first steps toward the massive uprising of May 15 were taken in February, when a bunch of activists and bloggers created a Facebook group to coordinate the various elements of society.
“When we were just a few, the idea of a massive mobilization was proposed, which would bring together the many disparate groups and people,” said Klaudia Álvarez, one of the Facebook group’s original participants. “Everybody liked the idea and so we started working on that as the first collective action.” She is now a communications coordinator for the national grassroots campaign Democracia Real Ya (DRY).
There is no single organization behind the campaign, but rather, as Álvarez noted, “angry individuals who felt the need to do something about the current situation and who found each other on the Internet and decided to start working together.” They were bloggers and activists, like Violeta, administrator of the blog We Have the Right to Work; members of the National Association of Unemployed People; members of the Campaign for People Affected by Their Mortgage; or people from the hacktivist group Anonymous. They were from all around
“Almost all of us were beginners in these matters and the little training we had came from different manuals about peaceful resistance and the rights of demonstrators that we looked up on the Internet,” Álvarez explained. She cited a publication called Civil Defense Manual by Grupo 17 de Marzo—an activist lawyer collective—as particularly influential.
A month after launching the Facebook group, the campaign pinpointed May 15 as the date of the first demonstration and adopted the slogan that became its name
In the two months leading up to May 15, DRY focused on creating posters, videos, and sharing information about the campaign and the upcoming demonstration, as well as creating a series of proposals to improve the social and political situation of the country. There was much work to be done and people were actually showing up to do it. Journalists, lawyers, designers, and computer technicians created local groups that worked through assemblies to make decisions that were carried by delegates back to the original organizers. In this way, among thousands of people in more than 50 cities, the proposals of the campaign were agreed upon democratically.
May 15 came and the success of the demonstration exceeded all expectations. Tens of thousands of people came out into the streets in more than fifty cities, far more than the general strike convened by the two major labor unions last September, and comparable only to the number of people who celebrated
Soon, a camp was set up in
The next day, at 8 in the morning, they held their first assembly. The media started going to Sol to see what was happening and they saw that people had joined the campsites and brought furniture, as well as computers and an awning. Twelve hours later, nearly 2,500 people attended the second assembly.
“At the beginning nobody dared to use the megaphone,” said Juan Cobo, spokesman for the Twitter-based #acampadasol (Sol encampment). But little by little, he explained, people started participating and the growing assembly became a space where everybody could express their frustration with the system. “It was a beautiful demonstration,” he said. “People were very involved.”
In this assembly, people also decided about such subjects as the organization of the campsites and how to present this new campaign to the media. Communications professionals explained to the people how to act in front of the cameras. That night, police evicted the campers from Sol square, pushing the members to
Sol was empty, but by the next afternoon there were 30,000 people in the square. And the next day, people in
As the movement multiplied, it began to spread to several cities in Europe, like
As for the camping campaign, it held a national meeting on June 5 with delegates of 56 cities, where they decided on some collective actions—most recently, the demonstrations in front of the Congress and Parliament of
“It’s a decision that was made in the second week of the camping movement,” explained Juan Cobo. “The problem is that it took a lot of energy to organize the camping and to reply to the fake news in some of the media.” While the work and the spirit of the camp-outs in
The DRY and #acampadasol campaigns—collectively the 15M movement—have organized several recent demonstrations. On June 11, they protested the inauguration of recently elected municipal officials in front of town halls across the country. A few days later, on June 15, they camped outside the Catalan Parliament in
An even bigger demonstration is planned for Sunday, June 19 to protest a series of economic measures in the European Union known as a “pact for the euro” that will bring more cuts in social and labor rights. Organizers are expecting demonstrations in 120 cities across
Special thanks to Mary Ann Farrell and James Farrell for English translation.
Ter Garcia is a Spanish independent journalist from
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs