THE EVENT ON JULY 11th STARTED WITH A LONG OVATION This demonstration in Madrid by the UGT and CCOO in defence of the mining sector was a peaceful ramble around 11.00 am in the Plaza de Colón with the slogans "Yes to the revival of the mining regions 'and' No ...to the closure of coal mining." At the beginning of the march, protesters gave a standing ovation in support of hundreds of miners who arrived on foot from the coalfields and positioned behind the head of the march. From 10am, thousands of people arriving on buses have been gathering around the Plaza de Colón where they launched fireworks and expressed support for the miners.
Riot police caused violent clashes against the miners, who were on their way to protest outside the headquarters of the Ministry of Industry. At least 76 people have been injured in Madrid, mainly miners and their supporters, as clashes flared up between protesters and police, the latter using rubber bullets. Over one hundred thousand Spaniards turned out against new cuts introduced by the government. The prime minister chose to announce his decision to raise VAT by 3 per cent as part of the plan to trim the public budget by 65 billion euro over the next two-and-a-half years. Rajoy also declared a 3.5-billion-euro cut to local government spending. This seemed designed to provoke anger and bury the news by discreding opponents in coordinated media smears occasioned by the Miners protest.
Miners and their supporters around the world are looking at events in Spain - the whole world is watching.
Several arrests have been made so far, with eight people being detained. Three of those arrested reportedly threw bricks at police, local El Pais newspaper reported, but whether you believe that is another matter as that is a capitalist paper. The police have confirmed that there were no miners among the arrested, but there are among the injured.
Protesters panicked and sought shelter as police began to disperse the crowd, Olvidio Gonzalez, 67, a retired miner from the northern Asturias region said;
“We were walking peacefully to get to where the union leaders were speaking and they started to fire indiscriminately,” said Gonzalez, who was also struck by a rubber bullet.
Witnesses and demonstrators claim that police started the attack without any warning. Later "We were eating quietly when they began to appear with several police vans. Then we started to shout and some threw a few bottles, which gave rise to the charge," Hermann, a miner from the small town of Langreo in northern Spain, said.
In their speeches, the mining unions have sought to show appreciation to the citizens of Madrid of the social support received during the last few days, and especially for the reception in the evening on Tuesday. Thus, the general secretary of CCOO, Ignacio Fernández Toxo, and the UGT, Colin Campbell, have accused the government of provoking the conflict with coal miners and demanded the government to "rectify" its policy towards the sector mining and to the 63 percent cuts in aid to coal in 2012. Campbell has accused the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, as "irresponsible" because cuts involve "laying off thousands of people." Protesters disagree with a 63 per cent cut in subsidies to coal mining companies, major contributors to the Spanish energy market. Unions say the plan threatens 30,000 jobs and will destroy their livelihoods.
Miners, who were hiking from the north of the country for the past two weeks, have been joined by tens of thousands of Spaniards also protesting against Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s tax hike. Many protesters marched more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) from mines in northern Spain. As protesters call for more demonstrations to make their voices heard journalist and writer Miguel-Anxo Murado said that the government seems to playdown the protests.
“They think they can cope with these protests partly because mining regions are localized in certain areas of the country. These are small areas. So they think that this will not affect the rest of the country. The truth is that the miners are getting a lot of solidarity because many people relate to them and see their problems as their own problems” .
The UGT and CCOO unions are determined to continue with the protests against cuts in support of the miners. Iin the event that the Government agrees to negotiate or offer a solution to the sector, announced the representatives of the federations of industry of both Unions, before the start of the event on Wednesday in downtown Madrid; "If the government wants to end the conflict, you can do quickly. We are willing to talk. If not, follow the demonstrations," said the media to the general secretary of the Federation of Industry CC.OO . Felipe Lopez, before the start of the event. Lopez has expressed "satisfaction" of unions with public support for its night held last night by the miners in the center of Madrid
And they are right. The miners are right in their struggle, and I will expand now on why they are right. They have it for all the reasons that you have heard and read recently, but even if they had these reasons, they continue to have reason on their side, it is an elementary question of historical justice. It is owed to them and the generations of miners that preceeded them, and that is enough for us to be obliged to respect their way of life and its territories, and the state should provide money, which is small change compared with the bank bailouts.
But again, what interests me today is not so much their own struggle (to support it), but the lessons of dignity, solidarity and resistance that we give to other workers.
We have all been awakened recently by the struggle of these miners in two ways: for in their claim for a future worth living, for all those who also lack this future, and because the strength of their struggle is more evident than the collective poor response to the attacks of the business capitalist classes and their governments from and upon the rest of us. Regarding the former, the miners fight is extended to all of us, all the job cuts, the pension cuts, the welfare cuts, the NHS cuts and so on.
In the miners we see our past, our class consciousness at some point lost, taken from us, or never encouraged and therefore the possibilities of collective struggle that we find today are conditioned by this. But mostly, we see in them our future in their cry for not being abandoned, they want to survive, not to see their towns and villages devastated by unemployment and inactivity. They taught us that when we fight we might lose, but without fight we have lost. We overlook a glimpse of a future that awaits all of us, all workers and unemployed abandoned to their fate, doomed to a long period of shortages, misery, at the mercy of a wind that leaves nothing standing, with millions of jobs in extinction, and all of Spain & Europe turned into a major mining region threatened by the desolation and lack of output. Regarding the latter, the classic hard working miners, who respond to violence with violence, requires us to find another word for what we do, that we sometimes deluded ourselves and our efforts by thinking of them as exemplary resistance. However, when we 'set fire' on social networks, real miners set fire to the barricades on the highways. While we convened a strike every 5 years, without much conviction and above all without continuity, the miners elected for the indefinite strike for weeks, it is solid class struggle.
As we write posts and tweets of complaint against cuts (me first), they are enclosed in virtual spaces, but paralysing traffic clogs up entire regions, and finally we may start to walk down the one road of class struggle together. While we painted banners and compose witty couplets of sympathy to shout in protest, they go face to face & toe to toe with the Civil Guard. While we tweet and give thousands of "likes" to support the claims of the groups hardest hit, they go from village to village giving and receiving hugs, sharing food and shelter.
While we wait for the next anniversary date to retake the streets, they are planted in the Puerta del Sol after having taken over the streets of all the towns through which they passed. The lesson is clear: before these attacks against the workers there were imaginary liberal & radical utopias, but these are not times of hashtag, but the burning barricades and bazookas. Before the ephemeral solidarity of the social network and harmless indignation, but now is a time to come together, to share spaces & place, being in the streets, hugging as we hugged, embraced these days of hope as the miners do with whom we were waiting for at the entrance of each village. Therefore, the government cannot allow the miners to win this struggle, this pulse of dynamic working class struggle, because if it is successful, it will be setting a 'bad example for other workers'.
We might! Take note, learn the lessons, follow suit, struggle to be heard, not to be trampled on, not continue to lose: but to fight, and fight to win, to resist now, to build the necessary networks of solidarity, to be firm, not to be sidelined by the trivialities of instant click amusements, going to the end of struggles and linking them up, taking the roads back and going on the one road together.
So the harsh police repression which is visited against and upon the miners, and their trial by media criminalization. For these reasons workers need to win this miners struggle: for his victory clears the way for us, and defeat would make it more difficult to raise the resistance in the future, history has proved that. So today we are all miners, and we have to be with them. For justice, history, memory, because they deserve it. But for us, because if they fear for their future, ours is just black, black diamond coal black.
Finally, the Durham Miners Association has arranged for a delegation of 11 striking Miners to attend the Durham Miners Gala - arranging transport & accomodation.