postvirtual

Dancing at the barricades

In Madrid, Spain on 28 July 2011 at 18:39
Dear people,
Yesterday after the police had lifted the siege of parliament, silence fell over Madrid. I couldn’t believe it. Nothing was happening. The acampada at Paseo del Prado was almost abandoned. It was as if the revolution had either ended or gone on holiday.I myself was already making plans to leave the city and look for the revolutionary vibe somewhere else. Because you have to know that sedition is like hard drugs. You get addicted. Once it’s going on, you keep on going indefinitely. But when it’s gone, things around you just seem bleak and miserable.

It’s already late in the evening when I’m walking over Alcalà with comrades Jim and Bob when suddenly, out of the distance comes shouting and singing. “Finally! Protest!” It’s a massive demonstration and it comes our way behind a banner that says: ‘No aggression without reaction!’

At Cibeles. Photo: Bob

Thank heaven, the revolutionary spirit is still alive. We walk along, behind a bagpipes player, singing and dancing and shooting pictures. The day before, we were hundreds at the assembly near the barricades, the same morning the siege was lifted by force, and now we are thousands. “To congress! To congress!”

Just before the march arrives there I run ahead to take a look at the situation, and I’m impressed. The police is prepared for the worst. They are dressed up in full riot gear, looking cool, holding up guns with teargas granates, ready to disperse the crowd if necessary. There’s only one thing that crosses my mind as I run back: batteries. I hope the batteries of Jim’s camera will hold out if things get ugly.

They don’t. We walk around the Neptune fountain and then we storm the barricade, running and yelling. We stop short at the fences, just metres from the police officers, and we start shouting: “No! No! / We are not afraid!”

'Culpables'. Photo: Bob

Photo: Bob

(all videos by Jim)

The rest of the evening is party and dancing. As if the revolution had already triumphed. Everyone is here, the people I know from Madrid, the people I know from the marches, people from other countries that have come to share their experience. Everyone is happy, sharing hugs and kisses in the face of the police officers. Just moments ago they were looking cool and intimidating. Now they only look ridiculous. When the people gather around in Assembly under the statue of Neptune in the middle of the roundabout, they take off their riot gear, and they start to look like real people once again.

Photo: Bob

Photo: Bob

Photo: Jim

Earlier that day, after the lifting of the siege, parliament had gathered and some of the indignados had wanted to present a list of all the problems that afflict the villages they encountered on the marches. Obviously everyone who looked like an indignado was not allowed beyond the blockade, on the grounds of his or her appearance. So three of us dressed up very elegantly, they told police that they were lodging in the Palace Hotel across from Congress, and they got through. They registered at parliament, and through one of the members from the ‘United Left’ who acted as a messenger they were able to present the document to the prime minister. It’s incredible, the things you need to cook up, just to inform the head of government about what’s going on in the country…

Today’s news comes from Spain’s biggest bank, Santander. Under pressure from the 15M movement they have announced that they will give people a break if they lose their job or at least 25 percent of their income. For a period of up to three years they will only need to pay the interest on their mortgage.

It’s a shrewd move to improve their image, an image that got very badly damaged lately. The movement has been preventing evictions on a daily basis in the last few months. But just over a week ago, for the first time, authorities have deployed riot police to prevent people from preventing an eviction. When it turned out that all this demonstration of force was necessary to throw a middle aged unemployed woman and her handicapped son out on to the streets, the mainstream media jumped on it. The bank seriously started to reconsider its public relations policy.

So now people who can’t pay their mortgage will see expenses halved, but the length of the mortgage will be extended. In the end they will end up paying more. Now, it’s very important to realise that they are paying back money that the bank never owned in the first place. When a bank grants you a loan, they don’t open a vault and take out a couple of hundred thousand euro. No, they just add it to their books, they create it out of thin air.

A deal is based on two parties putting up something of their own. You put up thirty years of daily labour to pay for a house. And the bank doesn’t put up anything at all. In the 1960s (citation needed) an American citizen at risk of eviction presented this case to the court saying that his deal with bank was not valid because of the fact that the bank never did own the money it lent to him. The judge ruled in his favour. Mortgage is a pure scam. And any good lawyer will be able to prove that in court.

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