postvirtual

Colmenar

In Northern March, Spain, Spanish Popular Marches on 21 July 2011 at 23:38

Colmenar Viejo, July 21.

Dear people.

Today’s march was pretty easy. We took the main road from Manzanares, circling the lake on our way to Colmenar. It was only about 15 kilometres. To my great surprise there wasn’t one single house built on the lakeside during the speculation bubble. Of course there’s a reason for that. The lake is part of Madrid’s drinking water supply. As I heard it’s one of the best functioning public utilities in Spain, the water is of high quality and offered almost freely to the consumers.

Things like this can’t last in a postmodern society. It’s anti-economic. Water can be privatised. People can be fired, quality can be reduced, and prices could go up. Water is business. And Spain’s health care system is next.

Personally, I’m convinced that turning drinking water and health care into a vulgar quest for profit is not only immoral, it’s illegal as well. A government that claims to be democratic cannot deprive the people from its properties without the people’s explicit consent. In Italy, citizens have managed to collect the ridiculous ammount of signatures required to organise a referendum against the privatisation of water. The campaign was almost completely ignored by the prime minister’s media sources, but through grassroots organisation enough people were mobilised to reach the quorum. Over ninety percent of the voters said ‘no’, don’t touch our water.

We are constantly honked by the cars and the vans and the trucks. 15M is cool lately, even under the unforgiving sun. For the first few kilometres out of Manzanares we are escorted by a man from the local 15M movement. At roughly half way he hands us over to a girl from the Popular Assembly of Colmenar. She’s regularly calling the home base to prepare the arrival.

This close to Madrid we need to worry less about logistics. It’s all taken care off. The local Assembly welcomes us on the Plaza del Pueblo in front of the town hall with drinks and suncream and applause. Lunch is duly prepared. The best gazpacho and the best paella you can imagine, and lots more. The only thing that amazes me, a bit, is the complete absence of local or national media. The papers dedicate pages upon pages to the internal convulsions of the big parties, but they don’t seem to know what’s news any more.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Quite the contrary. They are delegitimising themselves in a certain way. Also during the first days of the Acampada in Sol they more or less completely ignored what was going on. Thankfully there was an internet newspaper called periodismo umano that covered it all, and they have seen their visits go up from thousands to millions. We don’t depend on main stream media any more. Thanks to the internet news will surface, and people will find it.

'Jim'

In the evening, after a nice siesta in front of the town hall, the united Assembly of the march and the local town is held. But not only. In a corner of the square there is also a children’s assembly, moderated by people from the march. It’s a great sight. This is education. ‘Suppose you are with six friends who all want to play at a different game, how would you solve that?’ At the end the answers from the kids are presented to the grown-up’s assembly: ‘If everyone wants to play a different game, you should invent a new game all together’. Applause and waving hands. Sometimes the common sense of a child is all we need.

Scenes from an Assembly

When the assembly is over, there’s is more food offered by the local population, there’s music, there’s a movie projection, there’s party. People are preparing beds and tents in front of the town hall. If this is really Plaza del Pueblo, then the place is ours.

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