The recent corruption scandal involving the governing Popular Party and specifically prime minister Rajoy, has provided Spain with an early spring. Corruption is nothing special in this country. It is one of the prime roots of its economic misfortunes, so the news can hardly be called surprising. But when it comes in a situation where the government imposes harsh austerity measures on its citizens, selling off their health care, their education, their water, and then a newspaper leaks a list with names and amounts of the bribes taken during years by government officials is enough to turn rage into action.
Many people in Spain are demanding the fall of the government, but also seizing and investigating the public administration helped by the civil servants and the law in order to protect the people’s basic rights to Education, Health Care and decent housing.
Puerta del Sol in Madrid is being occupied again: Five people slept on the square under the equestrian statue after the immediate protest at PP headquarters the day the documents were leaked. They decided to stay at the square to mark the start of an indefinite protest against government corruption and austerity measures, and baptised #Las5deSol although gradually they added up to 30 some nights.
Forty people spent the night at Plaça Sant Jaume in Barcelona after the protests against government corruption exploded on January 31, calling themselves first AcampadaSJ. Sant Jaume square in Barcelona has a very strong political signifance: It stands between the Town Hall and the palace of the Generalitat, the regional Catalan government.
The 15M’s strategy is not simply to protest, but to publically shame all of those who have accepted bribes. As a result of social reunification in squares has emerged a new form of coordinated action: Escrache . Born in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, this is a kind of demonstration in which a group of activists is heading to the home or workplace of someone who want to denounce. An assembly in Barcelona to decide on how to organize the new occupation agreed on mixing both ideas in an Acampada Nómada or nomad occupation: instead of taking over a square completely the new action will mean camping and occupying different spaces as a a visibilization of specific actions -for instance, by a political party’s headquarters one night, by the Government or a bank that is evicting people another night.
On February 5th a spokeswoman of the mortgage victim platform ( PAH – NL#36, 1 ) presented a popular bill in the senate economic commission, backed up by over a million signatures on official forms and a ninety percent approval rating. In forty minutes she eloquently explained the nature of the mortgage scam, the devastating effects of foreclosures on society, the complicity of the government and the way in which neighbouring countries deal with these problems: generally a lot better. The bill demands immediate cessation of all evictions, the retroactive remission of debt in case of foreclosure and the redistribution of abandoned property among evicted families on the basis of a social lease.(NL#12, 2 )
Spain’s troubles have been billed as an economic crisis, a property crisis, a banking crisis and a debt crisis. But Spain is also well on the road to an institutional crisis. According to the well-known Metroscopia poll, 76 percent of Spaniards don’t believe the People’s Party’s denials of the slush-fund allegations. Even more damning, 58 percent of the party’s supporters think they are lying.
- Updates by @postvirtual
- Escrache Barcelona blog
- International Press Reviews: January 22nd, January 31st, February 1st, and February 6th
- Spain’s Premier Is Drawn Into a Widening Graft Scandal Gripping His Party [EN]
- Another blow: The ruling conservative party is shaken by a damaging corruption scandal [EN]
- Spain sees growing corruption scandals involving key institutions [EN]
- Spanish corruption scandal rumbles on as euro economy ‘turns corner’ [EN]
- Spanish Leader Divulges Income to Quell Scandal [EN]
- Barcelona protests in The Guardian
- Protests at Sant Jaume Sq, by @Fotomovimiento: February 1st , February 4th, February 5th
- February 2nd protests at PP HQ in Barcelona, by @Fotomovimiento
- Protests at PP HQ in Barcelona, by @GroundPress: January 31st and February 3rd
- February 4th potbanging against corruption, by @Groundpress and January 31st
Accounts: @escracheBCN @Acampada_Nomada @inviernosalsol
HT: #lospapelesdeBarcenas #RajoyDimisión #Las5deSol #seguim2f #volvemos2f
Source: Barcelona 15M Newsletter #38