A letter from Barcelona - The Reykjavik Grapevine

A letter from Barcelona

A letter from Barcelona


Published June 9, 2011

The sun is rising in Plaça Catalunya, Barcelona. Some people are still sleeping while others try to prepare breakfast for everybody in Comissió de cuina (“kitchen’s commission”). Maybe it is trend topic on Twitter, but it is difficult to see lots of people during the morning or in their sleeping bags during nights. It seems that all ‘The Outraged’ want is a democratic regeneration, as spoken by the platform Real Democracy Now (DRY). The truth is that thousands of young people have been camping out in various city squares around Spain; the blame placed on the economic crisis is, however, in their opinion not the most important point. They ask for a better democracy and that’s why they put their attention to Iceland; and not only for its inspiring democratic movement of late, but also because of the “nei” that citizens said about paying for the mistakes from a private bank.
This last Friday (May 27) it seemed a pitched battle.  At 7 am, while people were still sleeping, Mossos d’Esquadra (the Catalan police) and local police ganged up to try and “clean” the square to prevent possible damages if F.C. Barcelona were to win the Champions League against Manchester Utd. the day after [Barcelona won]. They have started to remove tents, computers, posters, food, gas and other things from the camp. The worst part is that 121 people have been injured, 84 of them part of ‘The Outraged’ group. The authorities insist on their intention of “it was just to clean” but ‘The Outraged’ (“los indignados” in Spanish) claim it’s closer to an eviction.
In Barcelona, the square of protest is divided in three symbolic areas: Tahrir, Iceland and Palestine, and in several corners where protestors attempt to organise logistics, communication, lectures and scheduled assemblies. Commissions ask for what they need via Facebook or Twitter, and indeed it seems that social networks are playing an important part in revolutions. Every day at 7 pm, people are invited to meet at Plaça Catalunya and participate in an assembly for being able to discuss different topics. Although there are some interesting proposals, others tend be on the sillier side, like abolishing Parliament.
It’s thus hard to tell if this is the way. It’s said that people in their twenties shouldn’t be wasting their time protesting in the squares instead of studying; nevertheless the protests reiterate the fact that what we have here is not democracy not only “because politicians and banks are a team” but also because of the dominant, two party political system (the conservative party [PP] and the socialists [PSOE]) that vehemently resist any change or restructuring of the system.
By now, ‘The Outraged’ have started wondering if football might be more important to Spain than democratic change.

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