Spain (and beyond): 15 May demonstrations updates and discussion

Spain (and beyond): 15 May demonstrations updates and discussion

Live updates and discussion from the Spanish assembly and occupations movement which began on 15 May 2011 and spread internationally.

I've already posted about this on the Tunisia effect thread but maybe it's worth a thread of it's own. There's an internet call out for demonstrations across Spain on 15 May, claiming inspiration from the Arab Spring and protests in Portugal and elsewhere. See this youtube video for example:

And their manifesto:

We are ordinary people. We are like you: people, who get up every morning to study, work or find a job, people who have family and friends. People, who work hard every day to provide a better future for those around us.

Some of us consider ourselves progressive, others conservative. Some of us are believers, some not. Some of us have clearly defined ideologies, others are apolitical, but we are all concerned and angry about the political, economic, and social outlook which we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without a voice.

This situation has become normal, a daily suffering, without hope. But if we join forces, we can change it. It’s time to change things, time to build a better society together. Therefore, we strongly argue that:

◦ The priorities of any advanced society must be equality, progress, solidarity, freedom of culture, sustainability and development, welfare and people’s happiness.

◦ These are inalienable truths that we should abide by in our society: the right to housing, employment, culture, health, education, political participation, free personal development, and consumer rights for a healthy and happy life.

◦ The current status of our government and economic system does not take care of these rights, and in many ways is an obstacle to human progress.

◦ Democracy belongs to the people (demos = people, krátos = government) which means that government is made of every one of us. However, in Spain most of the political class does not even listen to us. Politicians should be bringing our voice to the institutions, facilitating the political participation of citizens through direct channels that provide the greatest benefit to the wider society, not to get rich and prosper at our expense, attending only to the dictatorship of major economic powers and holding them in power through a bipartidism headed by the immovable acronym PP & PSOE.

◦ Lust for power and its accumulation in only a few; create inequality, tension and injustice, which leads to violence, which we reject. The obsolete and unnatural economic model fuels the social machinery in a growing spiral that consumes itself by enriching a few and sends into poverty the rest. Until the collapse.

◦ The will and purpose of the current system is the accumulation of money, not regarding efficiency and the welfare of society. Wasting resources, destroying the planet, creating unemployment and unhappy consumers.

◦ Citizens are the gears of a machine designed to enrich a minority which does not regard our needs. We are anonymous, but without us none of this would exist, because we move the world.

◦ If as a society we learn to not trust our future to an abstract economy, which never returns benefits for the most, we can eliminate the abuse that we are all suffering.

◦ We need an ethical revolution. Instead of placing money above human beings, we shall put it back to our service. We are people, not products. I am not a product of what I buy, why I buy and who I buy from.

For all of the above, I am outraged.

I think I can change it.

I think I can help.

I know that together we can.
I think I can help.

I know that together we can.

There's some discussion of this on alasbarricadas, with an article here calling for participation in the protests and a forum thread with a lot more scepticism and disagreement. I get the impression that people aren't sure what to make of it, and really I'm not sure either. It's quite possible that the demonstrations won't amount to much, but then again a similar call out in Portugal brought 300,000 on to the streets. Besides Spain there are linked call outs in Portugal, France and even Manchester.

Any thoughts?

Posted By

May 14 2011 11:45


Attached files


May 14 2011 19:59

Some more background here

The initiative “juventud sin futuro” was born out of different groups and university collectives as a real need, given the widespread passive situation of the country. This situation is particularly perplexing if we look at the unemployment rates (20% overall, 40% among young people), the increase in the retirement age (and the harshness of the conditions to attain it), or the reform of the job market—which, in practice, consists in making the work environment more flexible and lay-offs easier to carry out.

JSF was born as a place of coordination, where university collectives start to think together about how to organize a mobilization. Without losing its political content of demand and denunciation, this project can open up to the young people of Madrid: by crossing and innovating the practices, words, and aesthetics of militant spaces, it aims to reach those who currently don’t frequent them.

Our first place of reference is therefore the university, but in the near future we want to open up to other political realities—such as neighborhood groups and school collectives. Several open conventions are already taking place in some colleges and middle schools, where those students who are not organized in collectives can nevertheless take part in the movement’s decisions. During this early stage, our aim is to become established and stronger in the universities; later, we want to open up to different neighborhoods and other metropolitan realities such as social centers, alternatives trade unions, etc.

The movement has a specific generational nature, because our condition before the crisis,  the dismentling of the welfare state, the antisocial response that the political elite in Spain and Europe are giving to overcome the crisis, is generational.

So our mobilization is focused on the present and the future of the precarious students and workers to whose a miserable and solitary life is given.

On the one hand, the rhetorical “do it by yourself” which tries, and in many cases manages, to make us distrustful of the common and the collective, the only instances by which the humanity got high levels of progress; on the other hand a material existence everyday harder, which don’t allow us to live a free and autonomous life, without letting us the opportunity to choose our future.

Our first slogan is “sin casa, sin curro, sin pension, sin Miedo”, these are the points we’re working on : the right to housing, the right to have a worthy job and the right to have the retirement. The right to have a future, therefore, the claim of a welfare state reform which can match the necessities of the population and which is not in behalf of the bankers and a political class who is denied even if it keeps on enjoying those privileges that we all turn down.

The goal is the articulation of a generational response to the precariousness of our lives, and also a practical and theoretical response to try to open debate instances to rethink the prevailing consensus where austerity, years of sacrifice to overcome the crisis and calls for resolutions of the conflicts are individual, and can only be collectives, such as collective bargaining in the work centers are watchwords.

The negation of this approval must be supported by a conflicting political practice which can make us feeling alive all together in the schools, universities, neighbourhoods and streets. A great demo in Madrid and in some other towns of the country has been our first step which roused the interest and the involvement of thousands of young people who are not disposed to let somebody steal their future.

After the demos on the 7th april, JSF will take again the streets on the 15th May, attending a state march called from a new platform raised from the web, Democracia Real Ya, which aims to the refusal of a political class that rules the country under the set of the international financial institutions, and an economic class which keeps on showing heavy benefits without any shame, while the great majority of the population is forced to belt-tightening.

“We are not politicians’ and bankers’  commodity” is the slogan of this mobilization, and JSF is totally according to it even trying to exceed the movement pointing out which are the causes of the precariousness  of our lives, shouting loud our right to retrieve our future and the wish of doing it in common.

Edited to add links for Juventud Sin Futuro here and here. I'm not sure of the exact relationship between JSF and Democracia Real Ya.

Edit2: Some more background (in Spanish): ¿Quién es quién en las protestas de la red? Also here

Valeriano Orobó...
May 15 2011 11:13
Any thoughts?

Apparently the movement is basically leftist stuff lead by ATTAC. However considering there is nothing going on aside from parcial fights, I'm gonna attend. I'll let you know my thougts.

Valeriano Orobó...
May 15 2011 11:14

edit: repeated comment

May 16 2011 03:06

I have not been able to find English-language info yet, but there are reports in Dutch papers of big protests on 15 May in several cities. De Volkskrant has an article whose title translates as: "Tens of thousands demonstrate against cuts in Spain" The article mentions Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona andSevilla as places where people protested. The NRC has almost the same story, under a similar title same title, but mentions besides that there were protests in more than fifty cities.

Valeriano Orobó...
May 16 2011 06:05

Around 4000 demonstrators in zaragoza, no clashes with police. Hardly any news in the local press: no account in the local far right paper and a shy mention in the social-democrat one. A quite harmless action in the local savings bank that however apparently gets much support in youtube:
CGT supported the demo with other groups, CNT didn't. Quite boring leftist thing. However what interested me the most: i've seen people yesterday who i've known for ages who were utterly unpolitical and that yesterday were there not because any ideological conviction but because of direct and brutal experience of exploitation. Hopefully we'll see more of them in the future. Anyway we are still a long way from anything massive.

May 16 2011 10:56
Valeriano Orobó...
May 16 2011 12:33

The cops charging in madrid; 24 under arrest

May 16 2011 21:55

Madrid's Tahrir Square?

Some of yesterday's demonstrators stayed on in Puerta del Sol in Madrid and according to their blog are planning to camp out indefinitely. See also this report in Publico, with similar occupations planned in Barcelona, Malaga, Valencia, Sevilla, A Coruña and Santiago de Compostela.

The last link gives an estimate of between 117,500 and 129,000 people taking part in Sunday's demos.

Edit: how the occupation started

Comment from the alasbarricadas thread:

Juanatan wrote:

A los críticos ultraortodoxos anarquistas de Madrid les invito a que muevan el culo, se acerquen a Sol, y vean lo que hay: asamblea popular pura y dura.

Yo participé con el Bloque en la mani y en los disturbios por Gran Via, Sol, Jacinto Benavente, etc. y hoy he estado por la tarde en el campamento y participando en la ultima asamblea, que ha durado unas dos horas, de las ocho a las diez.

Ya se han creado comisiones de infraestructura, comunicación, acción, etc.

La gente se empieza a organizar al margen del poder, con presencia notable de anarquistas (los del bloque libertario autonomo), y aqui seguis hablando de que "algo raro ahi aqui".

Pues muy bien, cuando ya este todo montado venid a vernos.

Yo de momento lo que he vivido es una asamblea popular con mucha gente con muchas ideas distintas, y eso es anarquia.

La unica manipulacion es la de la policia y la de los medios (a los que se ha echado de la asamble, como Telecinco).

May 16 2011 22:49

The latest photo from Puerta del Sol:

For anyone who's Spanish is up to it this discussion programme is worth watching:

Twitter feed

May 16 2011 23:15

AP report

Tens of thousands of students, social groups and unemployed Spaniards rallied in more than 50 cities on Sunday to protest against government austerity measures and the role banks and political parties have played in the financial crisis...

Rojo y Negro

google translate wrote:
We congratulate the thousands of people, mostly young, who yesterday took to the streets to show their anger and outrage at the current state of affairs and the lack of outlets and resources that we face the workers, claiming a social change and supporting the active abstention to the theater by the elections of 22-M.

Moreover, we condemn the brutal police action at the end of some of the marches, which led to the arrest of more than 20 people in the city of Madrid.

We encourage all people angry with the evolution of the social situation to remain actively involved in the protests that happen and ongoing assemblies since yesterday operating in several cities.

Finally, we wish to convey our solidarity and offer our support to this and future demonstrations , because from the CGT largely agree with these just demands.

Confederal Committee SP - CGT

I haven't seen any report or statement from the CNT as yet.

Valeriano Orobó...
May 17 2011 07:03

CNT didn't support it. I'd like to know salvoechea's opinion too.

May 17 2011 09:16

The Puerta del Sol camp was broken up by police around 5am. There's a report (in Spanish) here and a photo report on the camp from yesterday here.

There's a call for another demo at Puerta del Sol today at 8pm.

Edit: video from the camp in Barcelona

May 17 2011 10:54

AFIK in Barcelona this movement have grown up from different collectives in colleges and even activists. Some media like Publico is supporting up to a point this pro-democratic movement. But the biggest and fastest media are social networks like facebook, twitter and also (a kind of Traditional activists media (i.e. indymedia) are clearly overpassed by this situation.

Anyway in Barcelona, we've had on last sunday a demo of about 15,000 people, which is quite big for our standards. Right now there is an occupation of Plaça Catalunya [a square in town center]. I've seen plenty of activists from social movements (mostly linked to the past VdeVivienda movement or trotskists, leftists from IU/ICV, greens and also squatters and anarchists), and of course, lots of newcomers.

In my opinion we may see in the next months a wave of new protests. At this point the thing is quite pro-democratic. However police repression is making people question this whole system. Also mass assemblies are making people debate. And the feeling against all politicians is huge in barcelona (even against the left parties). We can get something from this (at least some new militants smile ).

In my opinion we - the anarchists - lost a huge opportunity in the past with the anti-globalisation movement, when there were lots of people moving and getting increasingly political. However anarchist didn't want to participate in mass assemblies as there were lots of communists and trots. anachist prefered to create a new space based in black bloc and insurrectionists theories that attracted very little people in that context. Of course, when anti-globalisation movt. was coopted by political parties it was its final death.

As for CNT, unfortunately we live in another world. We're fully concentrated in labour issues and in our workplace sections leaving aside the leftists political millieu of streets. In our case, we go to the demos personally, but unorganised.

Valeriano Orobó...
May 17 2011 19:03

Unfortunately the streets are going to be filled with leftists. Better that they are forced to share them with other more interesting species.

It's quite obvious that this movement (?) run the risk of being coopted by any opportunist (and not only leftists, the far right too) able enough to exploit all its anti-political, inter-classist, petty-capitalist, human-rightist contradictions. Sam that lives in france probably knows the term citoyeniste, it's in france this kind of position that talks about a good and bad globalization, fair trade, tobin tax and all that crap. I think that many of the protestors in the demos have this kind of thinking with the important difference that this protest is not lead anymore by a moral outrage like in the 90's and early 20's but by the anger at seeing your very immediate future life chances bruttally attacked from all fronts (i've just known after the elections our wages are gonna be cut again, 2nd time in 2 years)

If in any open assembly the pow are diverse, is our task to point at the weaknesses of petty-bourgeois discourses (a movement that concentrates ONLY in the elected representatives is unable to see the root of the thread or the obligingness towards populiust shite, for instance) and show other possibilities. However is quite clear that the composition of the protest differ remarkably from town to town: quite clearly in madrid or barna was more radical than in the inner towns like mine, therefore the occupation of sol square in madrid.

Nevertheless, being able to have any chance to influence the movement from outside is simply impossible. To focus only in workplace issues like the cnt's been doing a long time ago according to Salvoechea's (and mine) opinion, is a disaster for them and one of the reasons it is increasingly seen from many people outside (not only wankers, no fucking way) as a XIX century esoteric cult. Please take note that i'm talking about the cnt (and not even about all the regional sections) not the anarchists, i'm fully aware that cnt in barna doesn't represent the totality of the anarcos milieu in the slightest.

Meanwhile there have been big demos all around the country against our current political representation and political economy (and that's a fact, what the supporters want to replace it with, it's another song) without the support of any party or union and that should matter.

May 17 2011 21:03

Puerta del Sol a little earlier: "Esta mierda, no es democracia!".

There's a list here of other camps that are either underway or being planned (map). So far I haven't seen any mention of problems with the police apart from in Madrid. Protests are also planned outside the Spanish Embassy in London, starting tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7pm

Lugar: Embajada de España en Londres, 39 Chesham Pl, London SW1X 8S
Hora: 7:00 de la tarde
Día de comienzo: Miercoles 18 de mayo del 2011
Enlace a google maps:
Enlace a google street view:
Como llegar en metro: Metro Sloane Square (circle, district)


Es nuestra revolución - Real democracy now

It started with a demonstration last Sunday...

People started to camp spontaneously in Madrid’s “Puerta del Sol” planning to stay there until next Sunday’s regional and municipal elections. Popular Assemblies were formed to discuss what to do next and social networks were on fire spreading the news, despite the official media efforts to manipulate the situation (hashtags to follow: #spanishrevolution #acampadasol #nonosvamos). International support would be very welcomed as we Spaniards aren’t very proficient in English.

This morning the Police came and kick the protesters out of Sol. They were shouting: “No to violence” as they were being beaten. Today massive protests and camps are planned throughout Spain at 20:00, in London we needed more time to organise ourselves and will meet on Wednesday 18th in Sloane Square to march peacefully to the Spanish Embassy.

This demonstration is not only for Spaniards living in London, but for everyone who is concerned and angry about the political, economic, and social outlook which we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without voice.

So if you don´t want our welfare system to collapse and all our social rights ignored and broken, come and join us. It doesn´t matter if you are British, Spanish, European, Asian, African, American... We are all in the same boat and we are demanding the same.

Following the hugely successful demonstrations on over 50 Spanish cities last Sunday, several initiatives in Madrid, Barcelona, Santander, Cordoba and Seville, are continuing protests by camping out in the streets until Sunday's elections. In London we will meet every day, from Wednesday 18th to the 22nd of May, to march from Sloane Square to the Spanish Embassy. Let's show them we are fed up as well.

Bring sheets, sprays, cardboard, banners, loudspeakers, and as many people as we can. We have to make our voice heard.

Edit: It's maybe worth adding that the call out for Sunday's demos asked for people to go as individuals rather than as blocs from political parties/groups and unions, with the usual banners and slogans and so forth. If anyone plans to go to the London protests it might make sense to keep to the spirit of this.

May 17 2011 21:38
May 17 2011 22:23
The CNT wrote:

CNT denuncia la brutalidad policial desplegada contra las movilizaciones del fin de semana

La Confederación condena el desalojo de la acampada en la Puerta del Sol realizado la noche de ayer por parte de la policía. De igual manera denuncia la brutalidad desplegada contra las movilizaciones del fin de semana y se solidariza con los detenidos.

Si en el comunicado contra la intervención militar en Libia, publicado en marzo, la CNT llamaba a seguir el ejemplo de las clases populares del mundo árabe, que estaban demostrando la posibilidad de enfrentarse a regímenes y realidades que se pensaban inamovibles, ahora observamos que algo se empieza a mover en la sociedad de este país. Las movilizaciones del pasado fin de semana, aun con las contradicciones que se puedan observar, son un ejemplo de ello. 

De la misma manera, la actuación policial demuestra que a este lado del Mediterráneo, tan cacareádamente democrático, la respuesta estatal es en el fondo muy similar a la de ciertos regímenes autoritarios: la de la violencia contra quienes pacíficamente expresan su hartazgo frente a un sistema egoísta, un capitalismo y una banca inhumanos y una clase política corrupta que sólo mira hacia su propio ombligo. Una represión que pretende, además, desautorizar las movilizaciones con el único fin de criminalizarlas, dándose la paradoja de que movilizaciones que en otros lugares se habían considerado como pasos hacia la libertad aquí son denostadas como actitudes "radicales y antisociales".

Por tanto, desde la Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, condenamos la brutalidad policial contra los manifestantes, el desalojo de la acampada en la Puerta del Sol y nos solidarizarnos con los detenidos a la vez que exigimos su inmediata libertad.

Finalmente hacemos un llamamiento a salir a la calle a denunciar este sistema irracional y a transformarlo radicalmente, sí, de raíz... desde la solidaridad, el apoyo mutuo, la acción directa y la autogestión.

17 de mayo de 2011

Secretariado Permanente del Comité Confederal de CNT

machine translation

May 18 2011 08:46

In Granada police has cleared the camp:

This is a link to an article that talks about the 14 arrested at the 15 may demo in madrid

For more up to date info you can check


As far I can see, 10,000 people mobilised by trade unions (ie CGT, IAC, COBAS, left parties, etc.),are not decently covered by mass media. In saturday (14 may) there was a demo of that size in Barcelona, in fact, it was even bigger because CCOO and UGT also called for the demo and gathered about 15-20,000 people. As for 15M demo, there were around 15,000 people in the streets. The thing is that the 14M demos didn't exist for the media while the 15M were fully covered.

May 18 2011 11:16

Another video of the police violence in Madrid on Sunday

May 18 2011 17:47
As far I can see, 10,000 people mobilised by trade unions (ie CGT, IAC, COBAS, left parties, etc.)

ejem. I forgot to mention CNT-AIT in that demo, we were also present embarrassed

May 18 2011 21:34
May 18 2011 21:48

One of our folks went and reported:

"...Though of course there were the usual reformist
demands being made what i thought was encouraging was the strength of the
explicitly anti-market anti-capitalist sentiment being expressed...

"...Here in my home city of Granada - normally very staid and conservative -the
turnout was much higher than I expected. The Newspapers put it at 5000 but I
think it was nearer double that - though this would be tiny compared to the
turnout in Madrid or Barcelona . Here's a youtube presentation of it.

[What's the trick to embedding these things here??]

It is an interesting development I think and possibly more hopeful than the
usual kind of protest with a marked absence of opportunistic leftist groups
circling like vultures to seize any opportunity to flog their papers. More a
kind of gut popular sentiment against capitalism and what it stands for."

May 18 2011 22:17

The BBC are now catching up with events in Spain, though with no mention of anything outside Madrid.

About 2,000 young people angry over high unemployment have spent the night camping in a famous square in Madrid as a political protest there grows.

A big canvas roof was stretched across Puerta del Sol square, protesters brought mattresses and sleeping bags and volunteers distributed food.

The nature of the peaceful protest, including Twitter messages to alert supporters, echoed the pro-democracy rallies that revolutionised Egypt.

The Madrid protests began on Sunday.

On the first evening, police dispersed the protesters, but on Tuesday they let them stay overnight.

Spain's 21.3% unemployment rate is the highest in the EU - a record 4.9 million are jobless, many of them young people.

Spanish media say the protesters are attacking the country's political establishment with slogans such as "violence is earning 600 euros", "if you don't let us dream we won't let you sleep" and "the guilty ones should pay for the crisis".

The atmosphere in the square has been quite festive, with the crowd singing songs, playing games and debating.

They are demanding jobs, better living standards and a fairer system of democracy.

About 50 police officers are deployed in side-streets off the iconic square and outside the Madrid municipal government building.

The protesters are not identifying with any particular political party, Spanish media say, but they are getting more organised.

In another echo of the Cairo rallies that eventually forced President Hosni Mubarak from power in February, the Spanish protesters have set up citizens' committees to handle communications, food, cleaning, protest actions and legal matters.

Edit: This is now starting to get more coverage. See this AFP report for example.

Hundreds of protesters, angry over Spain's economic crisis and soaring jobless rate, Wednesday defied a ban by Madrid authorities and pressed on with demonstrations ahead of weekend local elections...

That should really say 'thousands of protestors' not 'hundreds'.

Edit2: The NY Times has a better report.

May 18 2011 21:55
arminius wrote:
[What's the trick to embedding these things here??]

Click on 'quote' at the bottom right hand corner of this post to see the code

May 19 2011 00:02

This is spreading outside Spain:


Slideshow from London today

May 19 2011 10:16

Map of italian camps

I encourage to make this a European movement against politicians and against the "bourguoise democracy" for a real direct democracy.

May 19 2011 12:19
Salvoechea wrote:
Map of italian camps

The server is now down - but maybe that's a sign that things are taking off.


More discussion on this thread (now locked)


Edit: Italian revolution facebook page

May 19 2011 11:59

This may be a question for another thread but I'm wondering why there isn't more reaction here to these events.

With Tunisia or Egypt it might have been understandable that the countries were unfamiliar and people didn't feel they had much to add, but surely this doesn't apply to Spain.

Try googling 'nobody expects the spanish revolution' and you'll find a whole list of discussion forum threads with that title, so why the lack of discussion on libcom?

May 19 2011 12:28

revleft thread

urban75 thread

There are lots more links in this article (in Spanish) on the explosive growth in internet coverage of events in Spain.

Valeriano Orobó...
May 19 2011 14:29

Been listening to different podcasts, later on i will get myself to the assembly in my place. In one of them a 19 year old kid remarked the ones that stay at night in Sol receive all kind of help from anonimous people that go there to give em food, blankets, drinks, etc...Interesting to see how uncomfortable the media is not being able to put a face to the movement, being unable to find them drunk and partying, having to admit 1st) that there are young people that cares and not only nihilistic junkies (the most usual way to decribe youngsters in the spanish media) and 2) that there are old people too, that is, people with experience and not a bunch of headless chickens (another nice usual patronizing description) Equally irritating is for them the, for the moment, lack of orders from any major organization being obeid or followed. It's frankly amusing seeing them that uncertain and scared. The far right press is accusing the protestors of being secretly organized by the socialdemocrats, to the general amusement. Many crapy clichés are falling down right now. I hope "ces't ne pas que le commencement"