... people kept shouting last night outside the Spanish embassy in Belgravia. Since Wednesday 18th large crowds of mainly spaniards living in London are following a call to demonstrate and to express anger about the "political, economic, and social outlook which we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without voice."
On Friday 20th around 300 people showed up at Chesham Place for a 'pots & pans' protest, coinciding with hundreds of 'cacerolazo' protests called thorughout Spain as part of the 'Spanish Revolution' currently taking place all over the country. After the protest, a public assembly took place where, amongst other things, people debated the practicalities of setting up camp till Sunday 22nd. As a result, around 50 people spent the night outside the embassy, and there are plans for further demonstrations today Saturday and Tomorrow sunday [See Democracy London blog]
See pics of the London protest and read about the background story ...
What is all this about then?
Well, summing up the story began a few weeks ago when an anonymous call demanding 'True Democracy now!" went viral through social networking sites and twitter. The initial proposal was to take to the streets in as many Spanish towns and cities as possible on Sunday 15th of May, to express anger to the current 'democratic system' that puts the rule of the market above social needs and rights.
Currently in Spain there's 21% unemployment, which means that over 5 million people are out of work, 40% of which are young people. This, together with the massive 'austerity measures that Spanish government is imposing to the country affecting employment laws, cuts in public pensions and services, privatisation, and precarity in almost all aspects of people's lives, is fast creating a general unrest that eventually exploded in hugely successful demonstrations on over 50 Spanish cities last Sunday 15th.
The huge demonstrations in Madrid and Barcelona ended in the occupations of Puerta del Sol and Plaça de Catalunya squares respectively. In both cities a few hundred people set up public assemblies that decided to set up camps immediately. In Madrid the camp was evicted by police the very first night whilst in Barcelona it was allowed to stay. The assembly of Madrid immediately called for another occupation of the central square for Monday night, and in the event, thousands of people turned up re-taking the square and setting up infrastructure for a long lasting protest. The camp in Barcelona was not evicted and by Monday night it also grow to thousands of people setting up kitchens, sleeping areas, debating forums, communications infrastructure and so on. By Tuesday, many more Spanish cities and towns started to mobilise too setting up their own protests, assemblies and camps, turning the spontaneous citizen mobilisation into something resembling and uprising.
As a background to all this, there are the local elections taking place this Sunday all over Spain, together with, elections in some regional parliaments. It is for this reason why many of the communiques and manifestos coming out from the different camps talk about the need to go beyond parliamentary 'democracy' and into grass-roots and directly participatory ways of organising. It is for this reason that there's a general call from all the occupied squares to not vote on Sunday and to organise in local assemblies instead.
The main two camps in Madrid and barcelona are growing in numbers and strength (see live webcam from Madrid's Puerta del Sol) even though the protests are currently declared illegal since midnight Friday, due to the fact that Saturday is officially the "reflection day' during elections and as a result all public political expressions are banned by law. Madrid's local government had announced that they would not allow the camp to go into the weekend provoking fears of repression and the eviction of the camp, but the response was to gather in mass at Puerta del Sol and at midnight last night there where over 15,000 people occupying the square. The evictions has therefore not happened, and it now seems the camp will be allowed to stay, mainly due tothe fact that any violent eviction would play very badly in the hands of all parties seeking to get elected on Sunday.
The protests and occupations are due to continue till this Sunday (the election day), but the same as in the London's protest, there are now many calls to turn them indefinite. It is yet not clear how this protest will continue and what it will turn into, nor whether this new 'movement' made of a new anonimous subject will actually become such a movement. At the moment it seems that it is a clear expression of anger, disgust and defiance to the current status quo, but whether this general unrest will actually politize itself it is still to be seen. What is clear though is that it intrinsically carries a lot of potential.
Note: solidarity protests have been called throughout Europe for today, including in Italy, Germany, Portugal, France and Belgium
Communique from Real Democracy in Manchester
Fake democracies all across Europe are in great danger because the Revolution has just started. This is a time for action, for rising up together and changing the system.
Europe is suffering from political regimes that set the citizens aside and lack from a plural representation and by doing so, they become false democracies that do not represent the wishes, aspirations and needs of men and women of each country.
They only consider our vote as a mean to reach the power and, as soon as they get it, they forget that their duty is to represent the people. It is then when, as it happened in Spain and other European countries, they give way to the market and banking dictates.
Because of this, our intention is to change the current system, this miscalled democracy, into a new one where the citizenship play a significant role in political decisions via assemblies and other means of participation, with a freer communication media available to them and with a true separation of powers. A democracy to serve the people instead of the markets.
We moved from "I have a dream" to the "We have a dream". We walk together in this with other people from the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Holland and many other European countries. What happens in London, Madrid, Milan, Berlin, Amsterdam... is also happening in other cities and thus we all want to get together under this revolution.
A revolution with the only labels of participation, freedom and no violence. Without flags or political parties; just with the people. With honest men and women who have risen up to change a system that rejects them, a world that does not work at all. Because in the end, we are world citizens tired of enduring this situation.
People from Manchester: http://realdemocracymanchester.blogspot.com