Should Wealth Be Held by the Few or Everyone? -- That's the Central Focus of Protests from Spain to Greece
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Yet, according to a survey published by the newspaper El Pais, there exists wide support (81 percent) for the movement among the Spanish population.
Among the supporters are public intellectuals, such as Vicent Navarro, Arcadi Oliveras and Eduardo Galeano, along with political figures such as Santiago Carrillo, who was the secretary general of the Spanish Communist Party and a key voice during the country’s transition to democracy, and Cayo Lara, the coordinator for the third largest political party in Spain, Izquierda Unida.
Even Rosalía Mera, who is Spain’s richest woman according to Forbes Magazine, has expressed public support for the “Indignados.”
Reacting to recent events, commissions of the “Indignados” from across the country met in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol Square to discuss the movement’s future.
Through a process of popular assembly, they agreed to three key actions:
First, to boycott the country’s Town Halls as the new governments were sworn in following the recent regional and local elections; second, to abandon city squares and move their social action into city neighborhoods in an attempt to broaden the movement’s involvement with the rest of the citizenry; and third, to continue organizing protests on specific dates focused on particular issues, including a firm commitment to a global protest of “Indignados” on Oct. 15.
The first nationwide coordinated initiative since the spontaneous movement mushroomed on May 15, the boycott of Town Halls, was well represented by “Indignados” across Spain.
Demonstrators blocked entrances to Town Halls, climbed onto the balconies, prevented official cars from exiting car parks, disturbed investiture sessions with speeches, and followed politicians across cities as they celebrated their victories, shouting to them, “shame on you!”
Artur Mas, president of the Generalitat (the government of the Catalan autonomous region), was forced to arrive at parliament in a police helicopter, as thousands of “Indignados” blocked the entrance in an attempt to stop the region’s budget approval.
The protesters shouted: “You do not represent us!” The parliamentary session began with only half of the representatives able to enter the building.
In Valencia, the police charged at demonstrators injuring 12 and arresting five. To avoid further protests in that city, where the new government has ten of its members including its president facing corruption charges, Spain’s vice president, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, canceled a planned trip.
In the city of Madrid, police batons struck protesters. In Salamanca, five “Indignados” were injured. In Burgos, two were arrested. In Castellón, the protesters were violently dispersed as they were in Vigo and in Santiago de Compostela.
Following the arrests across the country, spontaneous demonstrations followed in front of police headquarters demanding the prompt release of those detained. Most protesters were released on bail.
It seems clear, when one takes an in-depth look at events unfolding in Spain, that these protests have hit a nerve throughout Spanish society, despite the fact that the movement is practicing a form of nonviolent direct democracy which is not familiar to most Spaniards, nor for that matter to most citizens in Western-style democracies.
Spain’s political, social and economic climate is beginning to be shaped, at least partially, by these cries of indignation.
Nevertheless, there is a danger that unless economic and political elites begin to listen and engage in some serious dialogue with the “Indignados” – instead of sending out the police to attack them – the nonviolence could quickly turn to violence.
Spain’s nonviolent protesters are not Gandhi’s well-trained and disciplined nonviolent peacemakers with months of rigorous training in Gandhian Ashrams. This is a one-month-old spontaneous and diverse movement, which is only now beginning to organize and present specific demands.