[fyeg_gen-l] Some insight into the #spanishrevolution

hector hector at convivencial.org
Sat May 28 23:54:16 CEST 2011

Dear all,

I thought it would be good to share some words into what has been tagged
as the #spanishrevolution. It turns out that this email got very long
though :)

As you may have heard, police injured on Friday more than 90 people in
Barcelona, under the premise that the square should be cleaned to make
it safer. Computers, food, tents, chairs, cooking tools and clothe cover
roofs were trashed as dangerous objects. The videos tell the rest (). As
expected, participation has increased.

Apart from the shameful state violence in Barcelona
(http://youtu.be/Geg_6Xoy04s), the important thing is that finally,
people in Spain are learning to do politics in the streets, to discuss
and to organize themselves by themselves. This is a great achivement
considering we were years behind when it comes to political culture. It
is also good to know that thousands of people are facing state violence,
and that a massive answer will happen withing hours from any agression
of this type.

For me it's not so much about the demands agreed in the  "consensus of
minimums" (which politicians will probably simply ignore). It's about
knowing that the created networks are solid, and that they can make
alternatives a reality (providing eachothers with things the authorities
don't want to provide), the best example is the camps all around Spain.
This will surely have long-term effects on traditional politics.

Below there is a summary of how this movement began, grew up and
organizes itself and basic demands, in case you are interested. Ask any
further questions if you want.


*How it began*

As you may know, a demonstration under the slogan "Real democracy now!"
was held on the 15th of May (Sunday). The call for this demonstration
had been distributed through the social media and it aimed to bring out
to the streets the people who where "upset" with the current situation:
meaning crisis, corrupted politicians, loss of rights, banking greed,
unemployment, bipartidism, non proportional electoral system... it was a
wide call aimed to a very wide audience and away from any "left","right"
tags. Keep in mind that local and regional elections were scheduled for
22nd of May.

The demo turned out into a great success (15.000+). It was followed by a
peaceful "reclaim the streets" which ended not peacefully with 20+
arrested and some containers burning (by the stupid 4-5 guys which think
they are defending themselves doing this in every demo). Of course most
of arrested people had nothing to do with the violence (long sad
individual stories here).

Also after the protest, some 200-300 people made an assembly and decided
to peacefully camp in centre of Madrid "Sol" square to claim their
rights and make the protest visible. The camp was apparently totally
unplanned and no media attention was received at all.

On the second night (monday-tuesday), police removed the maximum 200
people that were left in the camp, trashed their stuff, arrested 1. And
that's how it began.

*How it grew*

On Tuesday 17th May Sol square crowded with some 30.000 people to let
authorities know that a) They disagreed with the eviction b) They were
actually still pissed off for the same things as in the demo. The camp
was re-established with the will of building a:
*Peaceful movement
*Open to everyone

In the meantime, camp sites popped up in many cities and towns around
Spain. Mostly but not only formed by young people. Media realised they
might send someone go cover the story after the New York Times did it in
first place.

On Wednesday, the regional body regulating the elections declared the
camping illegal, demanding authorities to sweep it off. More people came
in to defend it.

On Thursday, the national body regulating the elections ratified the
declaration of illegality at a national level for all camps. Even more
people showed up. It was totally infeasible to try to dismantle or even
limit the camp at Sol.

On Friday, the Superior court ratified the illegality of any meeting of
this kind in the elections's "day of reflection" and on and the
Constitutional Court did the same.

They claimed that by demanding a healthier democracy we might  influence
the results of the elections, which somehow is not allowed by the
electoral law according to their interpretation.

So more people showed up. Authorities were required by law to remove any
meeting. However it was impossible to do so. They finally alleged that
as they were totally peaceful the right of assembly prevailed and did
nothing (but actually the courts had said it did not prevail).

This week, with the elections up front, gathered much media attention.
It was very funny to watch major politicians say stupid things and in
distress as for once, they could not control the movement of masses.

*How they are organized*

The movements works under strict non-hierarchical,open regulating
bodies. That is "assemblies", "subassemblies", "comissions" and
"subcommissions", with one or several meetings a day.

We all know how slow, dull, ineffective this type of base democracy can
be. Well, the Sol assembly has proved the world they can handle a
movement of 10.000-20.000 people, with peaks of 55.000 on this form.
It's just amazing.

Sol square camp site has a large covered area, free meals and drinks, 2
health assistance spots, quiet zone, nursery, cleaning service (actually
the square is cleaner than ever), security service, areas for the
comissions... all organized by volunteers, solidarity and
self-management. Alcohol consumption has been consensually forbidden in
the square. Assemblies count with sign-language translators.

*Consensual lines of debate*

So far, some assemblies have reached a consensus regarding what their
demands will be about. The Sol assembly, for example, agreed on the
following lines of debate:
  * Electoral reform towards a proportional representation system and
more citizen participation mechanisms.
  * Fight against corruption and more transparency
  * Real separation of public powers
  * Creation of control mechanisms in order to effectively control the
political responsabilities.

As so many people is participating, with so many assemblies and
different point of views, these have been rather slow deliberations.

*Elections and What happened next*

So the elections kicked in. The movement did not pronounce on whether
people should or not vote. It was clear though that it was against
reinforcing bipartidism by voting the two major parties.

The effect of the movement on the elections was limited. Changed nothing
really. There was a small increase in participation though, and increase
in the number of blank votes and invalid votes. There two major parties
lost support in general (specially socialist), smaller parties got
support, but normally not enough to make a difference. Socialists
crashed really bad, conservatives got many of their places even though
they didn't get more votes than before.

As it comes to greens, the results were bad with small specific
exceptions. Won't go in depth in this, but basicly, greens were still
too green and didn't manage to make themselves known among the voters.

The camping places continued though last week with two key horizons in
Madrid: taking the assemblies to the city districts and dissolve the
central camping site on Sunday 29th [to be ratified], but keep a General
Assembly of the People of Madrid. In Madrid it is still massive, however
lost much of the media attention. Today the first district assemblies
were held with very good participation.

And thats were we are now :) Hope you found it interesting and inspiring.

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