ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le "printemps espagnol" cherche à s’étendre
Translated Friday 20 May 2011, by Henry Crapoand reviewed by
Since Sunday a new protest movement has gathered thousands of people in Spain to say "no" to austerity plans and looks set to grow with calls for demonstrations across the world.
On its website (in Spanish) Democracia Real, Ya!" Real Democracy Now! rallies are being announced in Buenos Aires, Brussels, Paris, Mexico City, Berlin, Bogota, Vienna from Thursday through Sunday in emblematic city squares or in front of Spanish embassies. Other rallies are also planned in Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, UK and Padua and Turin in Italy. In Paris, home to many Spanish students, a rally is planned for 6pm in front of the Spanish Embassy.
"You take the money, we’ll take the street", "If you won’t let us dream, we won’t let you sleep," unfurled the banners in Puerta del Sol, iconic meeting place in Madrid’s centre. Since the beginning of the week, with cries of "we have the right to be outraged" thousands of demonstrators, responding to appeals on social networks, have invaded Spanish city streets hoping to be heard ahead of Sunday’s local elections. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of young people relay each other day and night on the emblematic Puerta del Sol in Madrid, where a proper camp was been erected. "We’re staying here until the elections" on Sunday, said Juan Rubio, spokesman for the diversified movement which unites young people and citizens of all backgrounds, the unemployed, and retired civil servants, in the rallying call for "a Real Democracy Now!" "It is a new movement being born; we are still putting together our ideas and organizing meetings for social change," he added.
However, in this country unaccustomed to mass demonstrations everyone is wearied and frustrated by the ongoing effects of the economic crisis, with unemployment continuing to climb in the first quarter of 2011 reaching a record rate of 21.19%. In February, 44.6% of those under 25 were unemployed.
The government outlaws demonstrations during the elections
The Spanish electoral commission announced on Thursday might that demonstrations will not be allowed on Saturday and Sunday, but some demonstrators have already let it be known that they will disobey these restrictions. According to the daily newspaper El Pais, the leaders of the youth movement have called a general assembly to decide whether or not to yield to the banning of demonstrations. But at the Puerta del Sol, in Madrid, the epicenter of the contestation, the majority of the demonstrators had already decided to carry on with the mobilization. "They can’t chase us away with kicks of their boots, since the political leadeers won’t allow that, because it would give them a bad image right before the elections," emphasized Virginia Braojos, 32 years old, who has come each evening this week to join the assembly.