Castillejo de Mesleón, July 31
Day 7 of the March on Brussels. From Buitrago de Lozoya, 35 km.
This weekend, together with comrade Daniel from the Extension Commission, we made a surprise visit to the Brussels March. We found them camping in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama at about eighty kilometres North of Madrid, in the gorgeous little town of Buitrago de Lozoya.
They had put up their tents in front of the Picasso Museum. One of our comrades explains what the museum is doing here. This is the collection of Buitrago’s most famous citizen: Picasso’s barber. In the last years of his long and productive life, Picasso confided his innermost turbulences to his barber, and each time his barber cut his hair, the great artist gave him a painting or a sketch. Over the years this ammounted to a significant collection, enough to fill a museum.
I’m happy to meet various people from the Northern Column. And not only. There are people from almost all of the marches here. Barcelona, Galicia, Valencia, Málaga. Some of them have already been walking for over five hundred kilometres in the last few weeks. And they just keep on going.
In total we’re about fifty persons. It’s an international march, and indeed there are various nationalities present. Germans, French, Americans, a Russian girl, a Cuban comrade, our iconic comrade Sancho from Mexico, and a horse. At the mountain pass we’re joined by a South-African woman, a veteran of the struggle against apartheid.
The road is long today. About 35 kilometres, crossing the mountains. It’s the second time in two weeks that I cross the Sierra de Guadarrama on foot, this time in northern direction through the pass of Somosierra at over 1400 metres. The route is not nearly as interesting as the one we took from Segovia. We’re following the service roads and paths of the A1 Madrid-Burgos. There is hardly any shadow.
From day-break onwards, when they come to advise us on the route, we receive an honorary escort from our comrades of the Guardia Civil. They perform the function of trailblazers, they guide the traffic around us when we decide to take to the big roads, they make sure that people who lag behind follow the right route, and for the last few kilometres up to the pass, their commanding officer walks along with us.
The Guardia Civil is on our side. A couple of days ago at a protest at the Moncloa palace, residence of the prime minister, they almost got into conflict with the national police. One of the police officers had torn down a protest sign of one of our comrades. He was severely reprimanded by an officer of the Guardia Civil: “What did you that for? There is nothing wrong with showing a protest sign.”
But also among the national police officers we can count on a lot of sympathy, undoubtedly thanks to the civil and peaceful nature of our protest. This is what one courageous police officer has admitted speaking to the National Assembly in Sol, last week. When the siege on parliament was lifted by force on wednesday morning, the people in charge will have made very sure to put only the officers of undoubted loyalty in the first line.
We descend into Castilla y León over the A1 under the burning sun. We get constantly honked. That is the whole idea. We follow the main roads for visibility. It’s another way to spread the word. When we finally finish our descent many people are convinced we’re already there. It’s what they were told when the comrades from logistical support served us lunch at the mountain pass. Now, it turns out we still have to walk another ten kilometres.
The organisation and the coordination of the march is far from perfect. They didn’t even have a route when they started. This can lead to tention, as we have noticed. And this is also the reason why we are here. Daniel has been following all the marches to Madrid, he knows their troubles and the solutions they have adopted. He has come to share his knowledge.
After we finally reach Castillejo and put up camp, Daniel and me drive back to Madrid together with our comrade from South-Africa. She’s an intercultural communications expert. When she heard about the march on the BBC she has interrupted her business trip and made a thousand kilometer detour just to walk with us for a day.