For the second night in a row people have camped outside of parliament. It’s incredibly interesting to see this happening, to see how things develop. It all started with blankets and sleeping bags. Next came the tents and the library. That was on sunday, right after the big demonstration. Yesterday the first structures have appeared on the eastern side of the siege. They consist of a party tent and a wooden arch in front of the police blockade. The arch represents a ‘customs barrier’. We have our own punks guarding it with cardboard guns.
On the western side there are twenty odd people and a tent. During the day it’s much too hot to stay out on the asphalt. People look for shadow, they work in shifts to make sure the place is guarded all day long. The two encampments come to life at night, but they are still very precarious. The authorities probably hope they will wither away under the heat, because if they don’t, it might turn into a huge problem for them.
Now, to put these highly significant events into context, let me give you a brief overview of the situation as a whole.
Most of the indignados from the marches and from the rest of Spain have been camping under the trees in the Paseo del Prado, mainly between Cibeles and the statue of Neptuno. Last weekend it was absolutely packed with tents and sleeping backs, but by now most people, especially the ones who came by bus for the big demonstration, have gone home.
The die-hards, most of them from the marches, remain. And slowly, vaguely, an organisation is spontaneously developing out of apparent chaos. In this case the heart of is the Field Kitchen that has been installed at Cibeles. I was very happy to see that our iconic cook from Acampadasol, the Old Sailor, was back behind his enormous cauldron once again. Near the Field Kitchen there is a small Information Point with a generator, and a First Aid post built over one of the marble benches. In the middle of the Paseo, on the gravelly playground, a long tunnel has been constructed out of pallets and covered by a blue canvas. This is the bagage drop.
Now, the social structure of this part of the Paseo (I will call it ‘Castilla’ for clarity’s sake) emanates from the bagage drop. People leave their backpacks there and put up their tent freely in the area. This organisation is quite different from the other side of the Paseo, which I will call ‘Aragón’.
In Aragón the people from the Eastern Column have set up their camp in a square piece of meadow surrounded by hedges on all sites. They don’t drop off their bags. They keep them with them and they have installed a twenty-four hour guard to keep an eye on who enters and exits their camp.
Then there’s the Basques. They refuse to be a part of the rest of Spain, and so they have put up their camp somewhere else, on the other side of the roundabout with the Statue of Neptuno. This way ‘Little Euskadi’ is situated half way between Parliament and the Prado Museum. Their only problem is that they still depend, just like the fortress of Aragón, on the Field Kitchen of Castilla at Cibeles.
The Statue of Neptunus corresponds with the eastern side of the siege on parliament. The Basques are very active here. In the evening time, if you’re lucky, you can find them in front of the blockade with a proud revolutionary look in their eyes, holding on to a black anarchist flag. On the western end they have planted their Basque flag in the face of the police officers. The first thing they do in the morning is pick it up and wave it a couple of times in the rays of the rising sun.
The western side of the siege on parliament is close to Sol, from whence they receive their supplies. Sol itself is once again an active political center where assemblies are held to decide on daily action and tactics.
Assemblies that deal with longer term actions and economic strategy have lately been held at the Crystal Palace in the Retiro park on the other side of the Prado Museum. The Social Forum which has been organised there yesterday has dealt mainly with internationalisation, preparation of further marches and the agreement on joint political and economical starting points of the movement. Ethical banking and the abolition of tax havens are very high on the agenda. Also, yesterday the assembly on Economics received a visit from Noble prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, who came to express his support for the movement. One of the world’s top economists has come to say that our current system has failed in many aspects and that it needs to be thoroughly reformed. He has put his hopes on our movement to bring it about.