2011–12 Spanish protests

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2011–present Spanish protests
Part of the 2008–2013 Spanish financial crisis, the European sovereign debt crisis and the impact of the Arab Spring
Puertadelsol2011.jpg
The Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, shown here on May 20, 2011, became a focal point and a symbol during the protests.
Date 15 May 2011 (2011-05-15)  — ongoing (1175 days)
Location  Spain
Causes Unemployment, economic conditions, welfare cuts, political corruption, particracy, unrepresentative bipartidism, democratic deficit
Goals Direct democracy, reduce influence of economic powers in politics,
Methods Demonstrations, civil disobedience, civil resistance, rioting, sit-ins, online activism, protest camps occupations
Status Ongoing
Number
6–8.5 million participants throughout Spain[1]
Injuries and arrests
Injuries 1,527+ injuries[citation needed]
Documental 15M: «Excelente. Revulsivo. Importante». English subtitles

The 2011–present Spanish protests, also referred to as the 15-M Movement (Spanish: Movimiento 15-M),[2] the Indignants Movement,[3] and Take the Square #spanishrevolution,[4] are a series of ongoing[5] demonstrations in Spain whose origin can be traced to social networks such as Real Democracy NOW (Spanish: Democracia Real YA) or Youth Without a Future (Spanish: Juventud Sin Futuro), among other civilian digital platforms and 200 other small associations.[6] The protests started on May 15, 2011, with an initial call in 58 Spanish cities.[7]

The series of protests demand a radical change in Spanish politics, as protesters do not consider themselves to be represented by any traditional party nor favored by the measures approved by politicians.[8] Spanish media has related the protests to the economic crisis, Stéphane Hessel's Time for Outrage!,[8] the NEET-troubled generation and current protests in the Middle East and North Africa,[9] Iran, Greece,[10] and Portugal,[11] as well as the Icelandic protest and riots in 2009.[12] The movement drew inspiration from 2011 revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and uprisings in France in 1968, Greece in 2008, and South Korea in 1980 and 1987. The protests were staged close to the local and regional elections, held on May 22.

Even though protesters form a heterogeneous and ambiguous group, they share a strong rejection of unemployment, welfare cuts, Spanish politicians, and the current two-party system in Spain between the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and the People's Party. Their sentiments also encompass the rejection of the current political system, capitalism, banks and political corruption.[13] Many call for basic rights, which consist of home, work, culture, health and education rights.[14]

According to statistics published by RTVE, the Spanish public broadcasting company, between 6.5 and 8 million Spaniards have participated in these protests.[15]

Background[edit]

Since the ongoing economic crisis began, Spain has had one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe, reaching a eurozone record of 21.3%. The number of unemployed people in Spain stood at 4,910,200 at the end of March 2011, up about 214,000 from the previous quarter,[16] while the youth unemployment rate stands at 43.5%, the highest in the European Union.[17] In September 2010 the government approved a sweeping overhaul of the labour market designed to reduce unemployment and revive the economy. Main trade unions CCOO and Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), and minor ones, rejected the plan because it made it easier and cheaper for employers to hire and fire workers. Trade unions called for a general strike, the first in a decade in Spain, on September 29, 2010.[18]

Demonstration in Barcelona on January 22, 2001, against the raise in the retirement age

For the rest of the year, the government proceeded with economic reforms. In January 2011, the government reached an agreement with the main trade unions to increase the retirement age from 65 to 67. Still, anarcho-syndicalist and other unions rejected the plan and called for a strike on January 27 in Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque Country. Other demonstrations in Madrid ended up in clashes.[19][20] The majority of Spaniards also rejected the higher retirement age.[21]

In February the so-called Sinde law passed, adding another motivation for the protests. The law allows the judicial system to shut down any web page that shows links or allows illegal downloading of copyrighted content. Users on Spanish forums and social networks have criticized the law, which PSOE, PP and Convergence and Union approved. An anonymous campaign, #nolesvotes, appeared online, calling on citizens to vote against any of the parties that passed the law.[22]

Prior to May 15, other demonstrations served as precursors of the protests. These demonstrations include the April 7 demonstration in Madrid by the student group Youth without Future (Spanish: Juventud Sin Futuro), which gathered 5,000 people. Spanish media have linked the demonstrations to the 2008–2009 protests against the Bologna Process.[23] The Portuguese "Geração à Rasca" movement was also an inspiration.[11]

Organization[edit]

In January 2011, users on Spanish social networks and forums created the digital platform ¡Democracia Real YA![24] Using Twitter and Facebook, it called "the unemployed, poorly paid, the subcontractors, the precarious, young people..." to take the streets on May 15 in the following places (in alphabetical order): A Coruña, Albacete, Algeciras, Alicante, Almería, Arcos de la Frontera, Badajoz, Barcelona, Bilbao, Burgos, Cáceres, Cadiz, Cartagena, Castellón, Ciudad Real, Córdoba, Cuenca, Ferrol, Figueres, Fuengirola, Gijón, Granada, Guadalajara, Huelva, Jaén, Lanzarote, La Palma, León, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Lleida, Logroño, Lugo, Madrid, Málaga, Menorca, Mérida, Monforte de Lemos, Murcia, Ourense, Oviedo, Palma, Pamplona, Plasencia, Ponferrada, Puertollano, Salamanca, San Sebastián, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Santander, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Soria, Tarragona, Toledo, Torrevieja, Ubrique, Valencia, Valladolid, Vigo, Vitoria and Zaragoza.[25] That same day, small demonstrations in support of the Spanish ones were organised in Dublin, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Bologna, London and Paris.

Before the demonstrations, ¡Democracia Real YA! staged several symbolic events, such as the occupation of a bank in Murcia on May 13.[26] At the time of the demonstrations, the website from ¡Democracia Real YA! had the support of over 500 diverse associations, while continuing to reject collaboration with any political party or labour union, defending the protests' independence from all institutionalized political ideology.

Protests in 2011[edit]

May 2011[edit]

May 15[edit]

The first protest was called under the motto "we are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers" and was focused on opposition to what the protesters called "antisocial means in the hands of bankers." The motto referred partly to the changes made in 2010 to contain the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis through bailout of the banks, which the Spanish society saw as responsible for the crisis. At the same time, the government continued to announce social program cutbacks. Protesters demanded more democracy, a new electoral law and an end to political corruption, as well as other policies, such as the nationalization of banks.

Demonstration in Madrid

Protests took place in all the planned cities. According to ¡Democracia Real YA!, 50,000 people gathered in Madrid alone. The National Police, however, placed the number at 20,000.[27] The march started in Plaza de Cibeles and ended in Puerta del Sol, where several manifestos were read. Also according to the organizers, 15,000 gathered in the demonstration in Barcelona, which ended in front of the Parliament of Catalonia. In other cities such as Granada, up to 5,000 protesters attended. These protests took place mostly without incident, except for an exchange of insults between some protesters and members of the Fraternity of the Virgin of Rosario, whose procession overlapped with the end of the protest after the latter continued longer than expected. In Santiago de Compostela, a group of eight hooded people smashed several banks and local businesses.[28][29][30] It is estimated[by whom?] that about 130,000 people throughout Spain followed the protesters that day.[31]

At the end of Madrid's demonstration, protesters blocked the Gran Vía avenue and staged a peaceful sit-in in Callao street, to which police responded by beating protesters with truncheons. As a result of the clashes and the following riots, several shop windows were destroyed and trash containers burned. Police offers arrested 24 people, and five police officers were injured.[32] On May 17, ¡Democracia Real YA! condemned the "brutal police repression" and rejected any association with the incidents.[31] After the incidents, a group of 100 people headed to Puerta del Sol and started camping in the middle of the square, which would result in the following day's protests.[33][34]

May 16[edit]

During the day, several people gathered in Puerta del Sol and decided to stay in the square until the elections on May 22. Meanwhile, 200 people started a similar action in Barcelona's Plaça Catalunya, although police initially attempted to disperse the crowds. That day the tag #spanishrevolution, as well as other ones related to the protests, became trending topics on Twitter.[33]

May 17[edit]

The night of May 17 in Puerta del Sol

In the early hours of May 17, police cleared the Puerta del Sol square and removed the 150 people who had camped out. Two protesters were arrested and one injured.[35][36] In response to the eviction and police violence, protesters (independent of the ¡Democracia Real YA! organization[37]) used SMS, Facebook and Twitter to call for a mass response at 8 p.m. in several Spanish squares.[35] Large groups of demonstrators returned to protest in various cities, standing apart from the group in Madrid. The police allowed protesters to camp out in a few cities, like A Coruña, where more than 1,000 people gathered.[38] In Madrid more than 12,000 people gathered and about 200 protesters organized into an assembly, during which they decided to organize themselves for spending the night in the square, creating cleaning, communication, extension, materials and legal committees. Previously, small businesses had provided a great deal of assistance with supplies, including food.[37][39][40] Dozens of people also gathered in front of the courthouse in Madrid, where the people arrested during the May 15 demonstration were being held. All detainees were released.[35]

Protests and nighttime camp-outs took place in 30 cities around Spain, including Barcelona and Valencia.[41] The protests gained the support of some people in the United Kingdom, who announced that they would sit outside of the Spanish embassy from May 18 to 22.[41] The protest in Plaza del Sol on the night of May 17 consisted of about 4,000 people, according to the authorities. As evening fell, the protesters put up a large tarp canopy beneath which they passed out signs with the intention of spending the night.[42] Three hundred of them stayed until the dawn of May 18.[40]

May 18[edit]

Sol, May 18, early morning

According to a reporter from El País, many protesters wore carnations, imitating protesters during the Portuguese Carnation Revolution. In addition, protesters organized a food stand, which provided food donated by local businesses, and set up a webcam to provide news from Puerta del Sol through the website Ustream.tv. The protesters were advised not to drink alcohol or to organize into groups of more than 20 people, as these acts could provoke a legal police crackdown.[42]

The police ordered protesters to disperse in Valencia, Tenerife and Las Palmas. During the evacuation of the Plaza del Carmen in Granada, three people were arrested.[40][43][44] Speeches continued throughout the afternoon. The protests grew to include León, Seville (where a campout started as of May 19[40]), and other provincial capitals and cities in Spain. Protesters created support groups for each campout on Twitter and other national and international networks. Google Docs and other servers began to receive download requests for documents needed to legally request permission for new protests.[45] In the morning, the Federación de Asociaciones de Vecinos de Barcelona (FAVB) announced its support of the protests in Barcelona.[46] Protesters agreed to hold meetings between their organizing committees each day at 1 p.m. and assemblies at 8 p.m.[47]

The Washington Post covered the protests on May 15; on May 18, more media outlets began to publish news reports. Among them was Le Monde, the most widely circulated newspaper written in French, with an article that noted the rarity of such large-scale protests in Spain.[48] The German newspaper Der Spiegel noted the importance of the effects of what has been called "The Facebook Generation" on the protests.[49] The Portuguese paper Jornal de Notícias reported on the protests in Madrid as soon as it was known that they had been prohibited.[50] The New York Times cited El País and noted the strong organization of the protesters, particularly the 200 people who had been placed in charge of security, and the use of Twitter to ensure dissemination of their message.[51] The Washington Post again reported on the protests in Puerta del Sol, giving them the name of a "revolution," estimating that 10,000 people attended Wednesday afternoon's protest, and comparing the protests with those in Cairo's Tahrir Square, which had recently ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.[52] The BBC made reference to the peaceful nature of the protests in Puerta del Sol.[9]

In the evening, the President of the Regional Electoral Committee of Madrid issued a statement declaring the protests illegal because "calls for a responsible vote can change the results of the elections."[53] Police units stationed at Plaza del Sol, however, received orders from the Government Delegation not to take out any further action.[54]

Protests and tents in Madrid on May 20
Since May 18, support protests occurred daily in several major cities outside Spain, including Dublin, Berlin, London and Paris (shown here on May 20)

May 20[edit]

According to Britain's The Guardian, "tens of thousands" had camped out in Madrid and throughout the country on the night of 19–20 May.[55]

United Left appealed the Electoral Board's decision to ban the protests before Spain's Supreme Court.[56] Shortly afterward, the State Prosecution presented its arguments to the court.[57]

Appeal before the Supreme Court[edit]

Spain's public broadcaster, RTVE, reported that the State Prosecutor upheld the decision taken by the Central Electoral Board[58] to ban the rallies.[59] Meanwhile, the police announced that they had been given instructions not to dissolve the crowd at Puerta del Sol provided that there was no disturbance of the peace.[60]

Appeal before the Tribunal Constitucional[edit]

RTVE later reported that the country's Constitutional Court had been deliberating since 7:30 p.m. whether to review an appeal against the decision of the Central Electoral Board.[61] At 10:08 p.m., RTVE reported that the Constitutional Court had rejected the appeal on the formality that the appellant had not appealed first to the Supreme Court.[62]

At 10:47 p.m. United Left announced it would appeal the Supreme Court's decision before the Tribunal Constitucional. They had until midnight.[63]

At around 11:00 p.m., some 16,000 (according to the police) to 19,000 (according to other sources) people were gathered at and around Puerta del Sol.[64]

May 21[edit]

In Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga and other cities, May 21 started with a "mute scream" followed by cheers and applause.[65] Smaller cities, such as Granada, decided to start before midnight to avoid disturbing the neighbors. These protests occurred even though protests on the day before elections are banned.[66]

Around 28,000 people (according to the police) crowded Puerta del Sol and the neighboring streets despite the prohibition. Other cities also gathered large numbers of people: 15,000 in Malaga, 10,000 in Valencia, 8,000 in Barcelona, 6,000 in Zaragoza, 4,000 in Seville, 3,000 in Bilbao, 3,000 in Palma, 2,000 in Gijón, 2,000 in Oviedo, 1,500 in Granada, 1,000 in Vigo, 800 in Almeria, around 800 in Avilés, 600 in Cadiz, 200 in Huelva, and around 100 in Jaen.[65] Demonstrations also occurred in other European cities, with 300 protesters participating in London, 500 in Amsterdam,[67] 600 in Brussels and 200 in Lisbon. Minor demonstrations occurred in Athens, Milan, Budapest, Tangiers, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Rome.[65]

May 22[edit]

Just after 2:00 p.m. on election day, the indignados (outraged) that had gathered at Puerta del Sol announced that they had voted to stay at least another week, until noon on May 29.[68] Early analysis of the nationwide elections, won by the People's Party, suggested the protest movement could have contributed to losses for the ruling PSOE,[69] and to increased numbers of spoilt or blank votes, which reached record levels.[70]

May 24[edit]

In Murcia about 80 people gained access to the headquarters of the television channel 7 Región de Murcia, avoiding security staff, in order to read a manifesto denouncing media manipulation.[71] Likewise, some 30 people gained unobstructed entry to the Tarragona office of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and shouted slogans against the political and economic systems, before moving to several financial sites in the city centre to do the same.[72]

May 25[edit]

In Málaga, the Ministry of Defence decided to relocate various activities for Armed Forces Day, including the King's visit, planned for Friday 27. Protesters had already been occupying the Plaza de la Constitución, where the events were scheduled to take place, for eight days.[73]

May 27[edit]

External media
Images
P. Catalunya clash gallery
Video
P. Catalunya clash (video 1) on YouTube
P. Catalunya clash (video 2) on YouTube
P. Catalunya clash (video 3) on YouTube
P. Catalunya clash (video 4) on YouTube

At approximately 7 a.m. on May 27, a more serious incident occurred when the city council of Barcelona decided to send 350 police officers from the Mossos d'Esquadra and roughly 100 more from the Guàrdia Urbana to temporarily vacate Plaça de Catalunya so that it could be cleaned ahead of the Champions League final on May 28, in which FC Barcelona were playing against Manchester United.[74][75] The resulting violent clash ended in 121 light injuries and provoked new calls to protest in all squares still occupied across Spain.[74][76] The majority of those injured suffered bruises and open wounds caused by police officers' truncheons; one protester left with a broken arm.[76] The protesters who had been vacated returned to the square by early afternoon.[77]

Similar incidents also occurred in Lleida and Sabadell, where Mossos d'Esquadra officers dismantled the protesters' encampments.[74] According to police figures, more than 12,000 people gathered in Barcelona through the course of the day, angry about the earlier actions of the police and painting their hands white and carrying flowers as symbols of protest. They demanded, among other things, the resignation of the head of the Mossos d'Esquadra, Felip Puig. They also claimed that, following the incident, the encampment likely would not be taken down on Sunday, May 29, as had previously been stated.[78]

The clearing of the Barcelona camp was broadcast live by two Spanish television channels, including Antena 3, and was also widely dispersed through social networks such as Twitter.[79][80]

The Catalan ombudsman opened an investigation into the incident to check if police action was disproportionate and violated citizens' rights.[81]

"Hear the wrath of the people," Puerta del Sol, Sunday morning, May 29

June 2011[edit]

June 2[edit]

At least 40 people gathered in Montcada i Reixac, Barcelona. They prevented court officials from serving a family with the order to leave their home immediately and protested against banks repossessing people's homes.[82]

June 4[edit]

Representatives from 53 assemblies around Spain gathered in a mass assembly in Puerta del Sol.[82]

June 8[edit]

In Madrid, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Congreso de los Diputados, with a police barrier preventing them from entering the building. Demonstrations in front of the Parliament are banned in Madrid, but the protest finished without incident.[83] In Valencia, dozens of people decided to stay in front of the regional Parliament.[84] In Barcelona, around 50 people protested outside the Catalan Parliament against Felip Puig.[85]

June 9[edit]

In the morning, police clashed with protesters in Valencia, injuring 18.[86] As a response to the police violence, demonstrators called for a protest in the city later that day, which gathered around 2,000 people. Support demonstrations were held in Barcelona and Madrid, the latter ending up in front of the Parliament for a second night. Barcelona's protest finished in front of the Popular Party's office.[87][88]

June 11[edit]

Thousands of indignados from the whole country concentrated at the gates of major city halls during the mayors' swearing-ins after the elections. Protesters broke in on the act in Granada, while two activists were arrested in Burgos and three in Palma. In Castellón, the police dissolved the demonstration violently.[89]

June 12[edit]

On Sunday, June 12, four weeks after the protests had begun, protesters in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid began to leave, dismantling the camp site; packing up tents, libraries, and shops; and removing protest signs from surrounding sites.[90]

June 14[edit]

Thousands of people assembled in front of Barcelona's Parc de la Ciutadella and organized themselves to spend the night, in order to start a blockade of the Catalan Parliament (which is inside the park) on the following day and prevent deputies from entering the building, where the debate on the 2011 budget, which would result in cuts in education and health, was to take place.[91]

June 15[edit]

Police confront a demonstrator outside the Catalan Parliament on June 15

Clashes between protesters and Mossos d'Esquadra occurred in the early hours of the morning when hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the police cordon, while officers fired plastic bullets in order to disperse a group of protesters who had set up barricades using rubbish containers. Hours later, scuffles broke out as Mossos de Esquadra pushed protesters back so the deputies who arrived on foot could pass through. Some deputies, such as former Minister of Labour Celestino Corbacho, were jostled, heckled and sprayed on their way in, while others used police helicopters to get to the parliament, including the president of Catalonia, Artur Mas.[92] Although lawmakers managed to enter the Catalonian Parliament, the scheduled session started with a 15-minute delay.[93] By midday, most of the protesters remained outside the parliament, while some confronted police with rocks and bottles. At least 36 people were injured, 12 of them Mossos d'Esquadra, and six people were arrested.

The protest was criticized by politicians across the country. During a press conference, Mas warned of a possible "legitimate use of force" in case demonstrators stayed outside the Parliament, and he called on the public to be understanding. Some politicians went so far as to denounce an attempted "coup d'etat."[94] Acampadabcn, the organiser of the event, and ¡Democracia Real YA! "rejected" the use of violence but denounced the criminalization of the movement by the media.[95] On Twitter and other social networks, many users suggested the possibility that secret police, infiltrated to cause the violence, started most of the clashes.[96] At the end of the day, demonstrators left the area and organised a march towards Plaça de Sant Jaume.

June 19[edit]

The starting point of the demonstration on June 19, 2011, in Córdoba, which 8,000 people attended

A massive demonstration was carried out in almost 80 Spanish cities and towns. It is believed that more than three million people rallied that day.

June 20–25[edit]

The first columns of the Indignant People's March began walking towards Madrid from throughout the country, planning to arrive in the capital on July 23. The March's goal was to expand the proposals of the Movement while visiting rural areas, collecting their demands, and starting people's assemblies.[97]

The March was organized in eight columns, consisting of dozens of activists from 16 cities:[98]

Indignant People's March Northeastern column, July 11
Southern column near Aranjuez, July 21

July 2011[edit]

July 1[edit]

Dozens of people protested outside Barcelona's town hall during the swearing-in ceremony of Spanish Convergence and Union's candidate Xavier Trias.[99]

July 23[edit]

All columns of the Indignant People's March unite in Puerta del Sol on July 23

After a month-long walk, the columns of the Indignant People's March joined in Puerta del Sol, where the movement first emerged. Thousands collapsed the main entrances of Madrid in an improvised demonstration, as sympathizers from Madrid and all over Spain joined the walkers.

The eight columns reunited at 9 p.m. in Puerta del Sol under a banner saying "WELCOME DIGNITY," received with cheers and applause. The march culminated in a wrap up and after-action review assembly, at which participants shared the social, political and economic problems of the towns visited along the way, as well as the proposals made by the townspeople. The protesters created The Book of the People to collect these experiences and redacted it into an official document to be deposited in the Congress of Deputies' register.[100] A provisional camp was established in Paseo del Prado to host the thousands of newly arrived walkers.[101]

July 24[edit]

A demonstration formed under the motto "It's not a crisis, it's the system" and the poetic "It's not a crisis, I just don't love you anymore," joined by the hundreds of thousands[citation needed] of rural protesters who had arrived from all over the country. During the rally, protesters sprayed red hand graffiti on buildings and posted bills saying "GUILTY" on bank offices and ministries, referencing the widely held belief that the crisis was caused by banks, the Government, and cuts in social services. Due to the large crowds, the demonstration split into two columns to avoid congestion. The demonstration ended with a protest camp in front of the Congress of Deputies.

External video
Paseo del Prado clash (video 1) on YouTube
Paseo del Prado clash (video 2) on YouTube

July 25[edit]

The "I Foro Social del 15M" was held in order to coordinate the mobilizations of the following winter. During the economics assembly, 2001 Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz appeared to show his support to the movement.[102] The camp in front of the Congress continued.

July 26[edit]

Fifty indignados left Puerta del Sol walking in an International March to Brussels planning to arrive on October 8, a week before the demonstrations of 15 October, in order to give the people's proposals to the European Parliament.

July 27[edit]

Police violently removed the camp in Paseo del Prado, injuring a dozen people.[103] As a response, 500 demonstrators rallied towards the Congress. Meanwhile, several activists crossed the police line in the Congress wearing formal dresses and succeeded entering the Congress of Deputies, where the Book of the People, containing the rural problematics found during the Indignant People's March, was delivered. Deputy Gaspar Llamazares compromised on presenting it to the Congress and forwarded it to the Prime Minister. However, he made clear that he had no connection to the Movement.[104] [105]

August 2011[edit]

August 2[edit]

When the assembly decided on June 12 to dismantle the tent city in Puerta del Sol, it also decided by consensus to leave behind an information booth, called PuntoSol, where people interested in the movement could find information about how it had been decentralized to the neighborhood assemblies.[106] An organic garden surrounding one of the fountains in Sol was also left behind in the square. At 6:30 a.m. on August 2, the national and municipal police evicted the remaining protesters at the information booth, and cleaning crews dismantled PuntoSol[107] and the organic garden.[108] At the same time, they evicted the tent city that had sprung up on the Paseo del Prado. The police then blocked off all access to Sol, including Metro and Cercanías, and filled the square with over 300 police, including riot police, and 50 police vans.[109]

In response, protesters called an immediate convergence to try to access the square. The heavy police presence impeded their entry. The protestors, then numbering over 5,000,[109] decided to turn to the streets, demonstrating from Callao, Gran Vía, Cibeles, and Paseo del Prado, all the way to the Congress of Deputies building, where they were met by more riot police, police barricades and police vans.[110] Protesters then turned to Atocha and once more to Sol, where they again encountered an overwhelming police presence. The decision was then made by the protesters to occupy Plaza Mayor, where an emergency participatory assembly was held in order to decide what to do.[111] Ultimately, protesters set up a temporary information booth in Plaza Mayor, and some stayed to camp through the night.[112] At the end of the night, two people were arrested, and released the day after.[113]

August 3[edit]

Poster used in the protests, Not enough bread for so much chorizo, referring to political corruption, as "chorizo" is also used to mean "stealer."[114]

During the Plaza Mayor assembly, protesters decided to hold another assembly at Jacinto Benavente on the next day at 6 p.m. in order to attempt entering the square again. Police then cordoned off the square, and metro and train stations closed, while police asked for identification from anyone trying to pass into the square. Police also asked customers from shops around Sol to close their businesses several hours earlier than usual. As the attempt to enter the square failed, the protesters decided to start a new march from Atocha two hours later. The march from Atocha grew larger as people began passing through Cibeles and up the Gran Vía heading toward Puerta del Sol, where officers and police vans prevented the demonstrators from marching up San Jerónimo[disambiguation needed] street.[115] Police and about 4,000 demonstrators then played a game of cat-and-mouse as the demonstrators tried to enter Puerta del Sol through different streets. There were several moments of tension at different points and by 11 p.m., the groups of demonstrators disbanded and retreated to Callao Square, where they held an assembly and decided to hold a demonstration at 12 p.m. on the following day and attempt to enter Sol once again at 8 p.m.[115]

August 4[edit]

External video
Carga policial frente al Ministerio del Interior on YouTube

Police charged against protesters in front of the Ministry of the Interior in Madrid.[116]

October 2011[edit]

October 15[edit]

As part of the October 15 movement, (related to the "Occupy" protests), hundreds of thousands marched in Madrid and other cities.

A half million people took part in the demonstration that filled the street and marched from Alcala and Cibeles toward Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, home of the "Indignants" movement. Another 450,000 people participated in Barcelona. In both cities, thousands remained and participated in the activities and general assembly.[117]

December 2011[edit]

December 5[edit]

Two hundred police officers cleared a hotel in Madrid that had been occupied since October 15. No injuries were reported. Later that day, 3,000 people marched against the eviction in the center of Madrid.[118]

December 28[edit]

Around 3,000 protesters marched in the center of Madrid in what was called the "Cabalgata de los Indignados" (Outraged Cavalcade). At the beginning of the protest, demonstrators clashed with police, leaving five injured, including two police officers. Two people were arrested. After the initial scuffles with police officers, demonstrators made their way to Puerta del Sol without further incident.[119]

Protests in 2012[edit]

On February 22, thousands of people rallied in the city of Valencia against austerity measures that would affect students financing college studies. The police arrested hundreds of the protesters.[120] On February 26, approximately 100,000 protesters demanded an end to further public spending cuts.[121] On February 29, another protest against the government occurred in tandem with protests in Greece. Some police were also seen supporting the protesters.[122] On March 29, protests occurred in Barcelona. Security forces were allegedly told to suppress the protesters. However, the forces were outnumbered and retreated to their barracks to avoid more injuries.[123]

12M-15M[edit]

In May, the protesters celebrated the first anniversary of the "Indignants" protest movement with thousands of people gathering in several Spanish cities[which?] at the same time. As part of a global day of action, similar protests occurred simultaneously in other cities including London, Lisbon, Frankfurt and Tel Aviv.[124][125] In Spain, at least 100,000 were estimated to have marched against the austerity measures.[126]

Asturian miners' strike[edit]

In late May, an industrial dispute[vague] involving more than 8,000 coal miners involved demonstrations and a march to the federal capital.

August[edit]

Marinaleda Mayor Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo led protests started by labor union SAT (Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores, "Andalusian Union of Workers") to get the federal government, led by Mariano Rajoy, to end austerity measures that involved budget cuts and layoffs of public sector workers.[127] The labor unions stole food from several supermarkets to feed jobless people and to ignite controversy, earning Gordillo the nickname of "Robin Hood." The goal of these actions was to stress that the attention was currently on the Spanish risk premium, debt and deficit instead of on the hunger of the middle and lower classes.[128]

September[edit]

As of September 25, an action to surround the Spanish Congress was taking place in Madrid.[129][needs update]

Political response[edit]

Presentation new Spanish party Partido X, 8 de enero de 2013.[130][131][132]

The demonstrations triggered reactions from the main political parties, who issued statements on May 16, 2011, following debate. On May 15, the day of the first demonstration, almost every party was willing to be quoted on the situation.[133] Jaime Mayor Oreja, Member of the European Parliament representing the Partido Popular, was critical of the protesters’ alleged intention of not casting ballots in the forthcoming election. So was Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) member and Minister of Public Works and Transport José Blanco.[134] United Left had a positive view of the protesters’ demands, but admitted to being incapable of connecting with the protesters. The communist party’s political coordinator Cayo Lara defended the protesters’ refusal to become a “lost generation” and criticized their removal from the Puerta del Sol on May 16.[135] Other politicians, such as José Antonio Griñán, showed sympathy for the protests while insisting that abstaining from voting was not a solution. Esteban González Pons, general vicesecretary of the Partido Popular, linked the demonstrations to the “antisystem far left.”[136]

Former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González compared the protests, which he considered "an extraordinarily important phenomenon,"[137] with those staged in Arab countries,[138] pointing out that "in the Arab world they are demanding the right to vote while here they are saying that voting is pointless."[137]

On July 25, 2011, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz participated at the "I Foro Social del 15M" organized in Madrid expressing his support for the protests.[139] During an informal speech, he made a brief review of some of the problems in the United States and Europe, including the high unemployment rate and the situation in Greece. "This is an opportunity for economic contribution social measures," argued Stiglitz. He encouraged those present to respond to the "bad ideas" not with indifference, but with "good ideas." "This does not work, you have to change it," he said.

On September 15, 2012, Stiglitz declared that "Accepting the bailout would be suicidal for Spain."[clarification needed][140][141]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]