Madrid. July 25.
Many of the marchers have put up their camp under the trees of the Paseo del Prado. We did too. So yesterday morning we woke up between the flowerbeds to start yet another revolutionary day.
It was the day of the big protest march going from the Atocha railway station to Puerta del Sol. Apart from the people that came on foot, thousands and thousands more have arrived in buses and trains to join their comrades.
Yesterday’s demonstration was enormous, especially when you bear in mind that we are at the height of summer. Usually, no-one in the possession of his or her full mental capabilities even thinks about taking to the streets this time of year. But now all the lanes of the boulevard leading up to the station are packed. You can’t see the end of the human flood.
I hold up the 15M banner that we brought with us from the north. All around us there’s a sea of signs. I especially like the more ludicrous ones. ‘You are looking at the sign’, says one. And on the other side: ‘This used to be a cardboard box’. Next to all the more serious and poetic signs it sums up the spirit of the movement. We are indignados, but basically we are happy. We like to have fun. Near to us there’s a Louisiana jazz band walking along and playing swinging songs from the 1920s. It all fits.
I haven’t seen one single political or workers’ union flag in the entire march. Only the ones from the regions of Spain. And also the red, yellow and purple flag of the republic. It becomes ever more frequent. It’s clear that these people don’t want kings any more than they want popes.
The festive march ends in Sol. This place is once again, or still is, the center of the world. Our comrades from the Columna Norte get together for a brief internal assembly on one of the nearby squares. What next? We decide to go to congress. So off we go, waving our Basque flags and shouting: “To parliament! To parliament!”
There’s already a crowd of people there. The indignados have taken their positions on the police barrier, to sing and to shout that sooner or later we will hold an assembly in this building, which is ours, the people’s. The police is pretty relaxed. They are getting used to us by now. And they are also getting used to being courted. “All we want from you / Is an embrace!” people sing. And they are convinced that day will come.
After a while I take a walk. Madrid really seems to be a city under occupation these days. Everywhere you look there are indignados from all over the country, going places, holding assemblies and planning actions. It’s already late. I’m at the Paseo del Prado with comrades from the march, ready to go to sleep. Jim comes by, things are still going on. “What do we do?” I pick up a piece of blanket. “Let’s camp outside of parliament tonight.”
We are not the only ones. It turns out Parliament is besieged on both sides. And tonight we will not be going away. Fifty odd people put up their tents in the middle of the street on the western end of parliament. A couple of dozen more will stay on the other side. Police looks on as some people clean up the mess from earlier that evening before going to sleep.
I sit down there with a girl from Syntagma, a history teacher. As people go to sleep all around us, and while just a handful of police officers remain to guard parliament we talk about the differences between Greece and Spain, about politics and why it’s fashionable to talk about politics again. When we reach the reign of metaphysics someone comes by with a plastic tub. “Do you want to some pasta? This is left over from the field kitchen in Paseo del Prado.”
That’s how our night ends. Eating pasta out of a plastic tub, and camping in a makeshift library outside of congress. When I woke up this morning, both my comrade from Greece and the library itself had vanished. For a moment I wonder if they ever existed. Then I look up at the parliament building. I see the four police officers on guard, I see the tents in front of the barrier and I’m pretty sure it’s all true. I get up and I feel great. Today is the first day of the 15M Social Forum at the Crystal Palace. The movement is not going to stop, and it keeps surprising me, every day.