Posts Tagged ‘15M’

Occupation Update

In Madrid, Spain on 5 February 2013 at 17:09
Barcelona this morning. PHoto via Flickr

Barcelona this morning. PHoto via Flickr

February 5, 1730 hrs.

Dear people,

The occupations continue. Forty people spent the night at Plaça Sant Jaume in Barcelona. The acampada has been going on since the protests against government corruption exploded on January 31. This morning, police surrounded the camp and arrested a man who was supposedly on his way to work.

The Sant Jaume square in Barcelona has a very strong political signifance. It is bounded by city hall and by the palace of the ‘Generalitat’, the regional Catalan government. Throughout the day people have gathered on the square in support of the occupation.

As explained by Thais Bonilla in her article ‘Vuelta a las plazas’, the 15M’s strategy is not simply to protest, but to publically shame all of those who have accepted bribes. They have disgraced the trust of the citizens, and they must be outcast. “The idea would be to organise demonstrations wherever those responsible for this scam can be found, and make it a continuous persecution.”

In Madrid the original five of Sol have multiplied considerably as forty people camped out on the square for the second night in a row. The renascent Acampada in Sol can be followed through their Twitter account @inviernosalsol, ‘sunny winters’.

At the time of writing, reports of occupations in Valencia and Zaragoza could not be confirmed. The General Assembly of Sol is now in session, live at SpanishRevolution.TV. The appointments for tonight, for every night, are 7PM at the PP Party Headquarters in Madrid, and at 8PM, pan bashing at Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona.



In Madrid, Spain on 4 February 2013 at 15:18
Acampada Sol, February 3, 2013. Photo via @Desobediencia_

Acampada Sol, February 3, 2013. Photo via @Desobediencia_

February 4, 1600 hrs.

Dear People,

The Puerta del Sol in Madrid is being occupied since last night. Five people have slept on the square under the equestrian statue to mark the start of an indefinite protest against government corruption and austerity measures. They were baptised ‘#Las5deSol’, and they have been subject to fervent tweeting ever since the sun came up.

Right now, citizens are gathering in the square. According to rumours, there are people occupying in Valencia as well. In Berlin, there was a demonstration against key corruption suspect and visiting prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

At five, there will be a General Assembly in Sol. Today’s call is not only to storm Popular Party headquarters, but also to occupy for as long as the government doesn’t resign.

Keep checking SpanishRevolution.TV, TomaLaTele.TV, @15MBcn_Int and @GlobalRevLive.

Early Spring

In Madrid, Spain on 3 February 2013 at 15:51
Demo in Barcelona, yesterday. Photo via @15MBcn_int

Demo in Barcelona, yesterday. Photo via @15MBcn_int

Dear people,

Keep your eye on Spain these days. Sometimes, a little spark is all you need. The recent corruption scandal involving the governing Popular Party and in particular prime minister Rajoy, has provided that spark.Corruption is nothing special in Spain. It is one of the prime roots of the country’s economic misfortunes, so the news can hardly be called surprising. But when it comes in a situation where the government imposes harsh austerity measures on its citizens, selling off their health care, their education, their water, then the news of government officials taking bribes is enough to turn rage into action.

For three days the general assembly of Sol has been in session. And for as many days, thousands have marched to the popular party headquarters to demand the resignation of the government. In Madrid, and throughout Spain.

Yesterday late at night, after peacefully resisting police intimidation, the people who had gathered in Sol vowed to continue the protest. Rumours also have it that a dedicated pocket of revolutionaries has gathered in a bowling alley near Cádiz to swear that they will not split until Spain has a new constitution.

Encouraged and inspired by the admirable perseverance of our comrades on Tahrir square in their struggle for freedom and equality, the people of Spain demand the fall of the regime. They want executive revolutionary juntas to assemble in all cities, villages and neighbourhoods. They want them to seize and investigate the public administration, with peaceful compliance of all those civil servants and law enforcement officers who abide by the current Spanish constitution in defending the people’s basic right to health care, education and decent housing. They want speculative real estate assets to be expropriated and redistributed among the people on a social lease. They want failing banks to be liquidated, and their management held accountable. Finally, the people want all the local juntas to join in a Constitutional Assembly to determine the principles on which they will build a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable society.

That’s what the people demand. And tonight at seven they intend to storm the governing party headquarters. I wish I could be there.

For coverage, check out the twitterfeed of GlobalRev (@GlobalRevLive) and BarcelonaInternational (@15MBcn_int), and the livestream on Spanishrevolution.TV and TomaLaTele.TV

Rising Tide

In #GlobalRevolution, Madrid, Spain on 8 November 2012 at 00:35

Ukraine protests. Check out more at

November 7

Dear people,

The city was invaded by German football fans yesterday. The sun was out, and they enjoyed it. In Calle Alcalà they saw a group of people gathered outside an elegant building, shouting slogans and brandishing giant masks.

One of them asked me what it was all about. I tried to be brief.

“There’s a big bank here that was bailed out and nationalised. This banks continues to foreclose on people every day, while millions of appartments are empty as a result of speculation. Today, the president of this bank receives a prize, here in the Madrid casino. The people outside want their houses back.”


I hope he takes this part of the story back with him to Germany.

The action went well. It had a clear goal and message. No doubt the suits and ties inside have heard it. “We have the solution! / The bankers in prison!”

Police were only two. They were in no hurry at all to intervene. As ninety-nine-percenters, I imagine they didn’t really mind to see people protesting against shameless bankers.

Not only Bankia has been under attack these days. Also Banesto, BBVA, La Caixa. It’s spreading everywhere.

Aside from the banks, there are hospitals and universities being occupied. The judges are occupying courts. El País has understood that something is going on in the country. El Mundo keeps filling its pages with the ‘separatist challenge’ of Catalonia day after day.

The hospital of ‘La Princesa’ has been occupied for two days. It comes as a reaction to the government’s plans to push through the complete privatisation of hospitals in Madrid, and to close this one down. Medical personnel has organised spontaneous assemblies to coordinate the protest.

“La Princesa is not for sale” is one of the slogans. And “We want to take care of everyone.” (Check Twitter @noalcierreHULP)

Students on strike have been blocking traffic today. And more news is coming in of actions in hospitals around Madrid. It’s too much to keep up with it. At the moment, we are four people and a cat at the revolutionary news desk. From abroad, we receive eye witness accounts of electoral fraud in Ukraine and subsequent popular protests. They say the story is completely ignored by the press. It turns out it isn’t true. Reuters, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune etc. are all over this story. It just seems that Google News filters it all out in Russia and Ukraine.

In Spain, people are now gearing up for the general strike on November 14. It has been called for by the unions, the big ones, but many people here in Spain don’t like the unions. So they started an initiative… Occupy the Strike!

Demonstration at La Princesa hospital against privatisation, November 6. Photo via @NoalcierreHULP


A European General Assembly

In #GlobalRevolution, Madrid, Spain on 4 November 2012 at 20:59

Agora 99 General Assembly, photo via @dar1o

November 4,

Dear people,

Agora 99 has been concluded with a vibrant General Assembly in the Eko Social Centre of Madrid. Initially the meeting should have taken place on Puerta del Sol, but because of the rain we retreated to the giant hall next to the centre’s popular library, one of the spaces where workshops were held over the weekend.

Without a doubt, the Agora has become a success. I already had a good feeling about it at the start. And though I didn’t sit through the meetings, I saw my impressions confirmed every evening, and today during the closing assembly.

‘Great!’, you may say, ‘now what did you people agree upon? What are you going to do?’ And I would answer: I haven’t got the faintest idea.

So how come I call it a success, if I don’t even know what has been agreed?

To understand this, you have to realise that we do not represent anybody outside ourselves. We are not the movement. We cannot take decisions in anybody’s else’s name. We are a few hundred dedicated citizens who have come together to share ideas about changing the world.

The fact that we got this meeting off the ground, and that so many people participated, is a success in itself. Next to the locals, there were significant delegations from Barcelona, from the UK, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, even from outside Europe.

The brainstorming sessions on subjects like debt, democracy and rights have resulted in a flood of more or less practical ideas about actions, demonstrations, dates, alternatives and civil disobedience that were put forward in today’s assembly.

The assembly lasted for most of the afternoon, and some will say that it was the “same old” weary mess that we have come to expect from large assemblies.

I didn’t see it that way. I have witnessed many assemblies – ‘farces’ would be a more accurate description – in which people only argued about what points should be on the agenda, and in what order they were supposed to be discussed. This time, at least, there was a real debate about content, and about future actions. The language was English, with simultaneous translations. And despite all the languages, and over two hundred people present, it worked out well.

Having said this, the assembly itself was the least interesting activity of the day. Much more important were the discussions ‘in the corridors’, and in other informal settings in which we got to know each other and were able to create connections.

We will all take some new ideas home with us, we will share them with others, we will develop them further, we will share them again through the network we have have built in these days, we will gain feedback, etc. This is the way things get moving. Not through a document or a declaration which was drafted by few, and then consensuated by an assembly that will only gather once.

At the end of the official events, when many people are already returning home, I get caught up in a civil disobedience workshop which unites activists from Madrid, London, Berlin and New York, aimed at coordinating actions around shared themes in each of these cardinal points of the movement. All participants here are veterans. From 15M, from OWS, from OccupyLSX, etc. Every one of us has experience on what can capture the imagination locally, and globally. Putting it all together, we will learn. We will get sharper.

 On repeated occasions it turned out that many of us already knew each other through the web. The Agora has become a success, not in the least because it gave us the opportunity to meet each other face to face, and to realise that we are more than an online social network. We are humanity, we are working towards change, and we will not be stopped.

The upcoming appointment is for next weekend in Florence, Italy. Everyone is invited.

Agora 99

In #GlobalRevolution, Madrid, Spain on 2 November 2012 at 23:29

Magdalena Abakanowicz ‘Agora’ (2006) in Grant Park, Chicago. Photo by JCTRambler

November 2

Dear people,

Three times already I have witnessed an international meeting under the name of ‘Agora’. First in Brussels, then in Rome and finally in Athens. All three of them coincided with the arrival of international marches, and to put it very mildly, none of them changed the world.

This weekend, activists from all over Europe have gathered in Madrid for the Agora 99 meeting on Debt, Democracy and Rights. The meeting was called for by Blockupy Frankfurt last spring. In three different social centres, today and tomorrow, workshops are planned on the aforementioned topics. I’m not going to follow all of it, I don’t have the patience. I’ll wait for the recap in Sunday’s general assembly in Sol.

A couple of things I can say, though, comparing this meeting to the other agora’s I’ve been to. First, it is shorter, much more concentrated, much better organised. Second, there are many very bright people present from different backgrounds. People with valuable experiences and ideas to share. That’s what this is all about. It’s an excellent occasion to create connections.

In this sense, the first workshop was particularly interesting. It was about the wonderful world of live streaming and advanced tactical media. I’ve been digging in to this subject for a while now, and this technology will go a long way. We are creating an army, worldwide, and we have only just started. We will rock the boat in the years to come.

One fine example of popular media is, online 24 hours a day since September 17, 2011, the day Wall Street was occupied. During the acampada in Sol, I was already fantasising about the possibilities of grass roots news coverage. I envisioned collaborative national and international news channels. And not just me. Comrades Jack and Vicky of the Audiovisual commission had been actively developing the tools which would make it possible.

But one thing is to create the channel. Another thing, even harder, is to keep it going. Together with dozens of editors worldwide, they succeeded. Last October 13, in occasion of Global Noise, they also launched a national channel, Revolution is becoming a brand.

Over the last 18 months, only a few of our news sources have managed to continue disseminating news about the movement consistently, on a daily basis. One of those is the International Commission of the Acampada Barcelona. It has been a pleasure to meet them once again, as it has been on various other occasions. They too have been doing an outstanding job.

The official program of the first full day of Agora has ended with the screening of a recent Mexican-Spanish documentary about the 15M movement. As far as I know, it’s the second documentary on the subject, next to the beautiful chronicle that was launched right after the end of the acampada. If you have an hour’s time to spend, and you don’t have any trouble understanding Spanish, it’s definitely worth the watch…

“Acoustic Pollution”

In Madrid, Spain on 29 October 2012 at 19:19

‘Homage to Vivaldi’ by Liliane Mainardes

October 29

Dear people,

In the western world we have a long tradition of considering government an instrument to serve the general interest and to protect individual freedoms. In many other parts of the world, and throughout history, government has existed as a tool for oppression and self perpetuation.

Generally, oppression is exercised through force. Such states are either police states, or pure and simple military dictatorships.

The Spanish state is turning into a more sophisticated dictatorship. It’s not military, it’s monetary.

Over here, you can be fined. Pretty much arbitrarily. There are enough laws to justify it. You can be fined for participating in an unannounced demonstration, or for just walking by. You can be fined or jailed if you call for an action that leads to destruction of property through no fault of your own.

The latest attack of the government on their citizens’ freedom is a ban on making music in the streets of Madrid. This affects many people. If you walk through the centre, you are treated to all kinds of music from classic to folk to rock. Many musicians are really good, all of them simply try to make a living. It’s natural when you have 25% unemployment.

Apparently, in Spain government doesn’t exist to protect the citizens, but to fuck with them, for profit.

They don’t care if you lose your house, if you lose your job. They care about the 750 euro they can extort if you give a brilliant execution of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Worse, they can also confiscate your instrument.

A government that intimidates its own citizens does not have any legitimacy. It must be fought. It must be destroyed.

Thankfully, this government also offers its citizens the tools to fight back. The official reason for the law is to protect citizens from ‘acoustic pollution’. Personally I don’t consider Pachelbel, Vivaldi, the Beach Boys, Queen, the Beatles and all the other tunes you can hear in the streets to be acoustic pollution, but that’s beside the issue. The real issue is that authorities themselves are the greatest acoustic polluters of all.

As a matter of fact, there exists a law in Madrid that limits the amount of decibels that can be legally emitted by sirens of police cars, ambulances and fire trucks. This is 95 dB (see article 36.1, page 10). At night it is required to be less. But most of the time sirens are put to full blast, which is well over 95 dB.

So there you are. All you need to do is take a camera, take a sound measuring device, and go hunt for police cars. If they go full blast, film them, take their license plate, and denounce them. But don’t denounce them one-fold. Denounce them ten-fold, a hundred-fold. Go hunt for them in groups. Every person that is affected by the acoustic pollution should file an individual denouncement. Flood the justice system. Make them pay.

Occupy Reality!

In #GlobalRevolution, Madrid, Spain on 28 October 2012 at 14:44

Acampada Bankia Madrid

October 28

Dear people,

It has been one and a half year, and let’s face it, almost all that our movement has been able to produce are assemblies and demonstrations. I’m getting tired of those. My head starts spinning if I think of all the millions and millions of man-hours spent in talking and listening to other people’s bull shit without any practical result at all.

What’s worse is that the whole concept of assemblies has been steadily deteriorating over time, instead of evolving into something more constructive. By now, assemblies are open microphones with nobody really caring to create an orden del día or to take notes.

So people take the mic and shout their ideas. “Let’s call for an indefinite general strike!”. Applause. “Let’s all stop drinking Coca-Cola!”. Applause. “Let’s all go home, because it’s cold!”. “Excellent idea!”

This is not revolution. This is nothing at all.

Let’s start to look around. Let’s admit that we are still playing ‘their game’. They are not afraid of us. They have no reason to. We have to change the game. We have to occupy reality. We have to learn.

Don’t get me wrong, but we have to learn from Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Greek fascists.

Why? Because they know how to build up popular support. They know how to build community spirit. They offer food to those who are hungry. They offer shelter to those who are homeless. They offer help to those who are unemployed. And they thrive. Mamma mia, they thrive!

The unforgivable mistake of these groups is that they actively create divisions and encourage hatred by selectively serving one kind of people on the basis of their ethnic origin. In this case the Greeks and the Palestinians.

We have to do better. We have to create unity. “If we do not treat our fellow human beings as brothers and sisters, then sooner or later, it will be war.”

War is playing ‘their game’. War can never be won.

So building unity must be the next level. We must create community spaces for the locals and the immigrants. We must set up community kitchens. We must share what we have. We must turn to local organic farmers. We must create our own industries, our own society. That will be playing ‘our own game’. That will be revolution. Direct democracy will not work if it doesn’t stem from a society in which everyone feels represented.

How can we build this society? We need spaces, covered spaces, especially because winter is coming. Fortunately, these spaces exist, and they are distributed over all Spanish cities and neighbourhoods. They are called ‘Caja Madrid’, and they belong to Bankia, which belongs to the people.

The offices, the headquarters, the franchises, and all the empty houses owned by Bankia are public space and can be legitimately occupied. They can be used to house evicted people, they can be used for assemblies and working groups, they can be used for community kitchens, theatre, etc.

Publicly owned Bankia keeps evicting citizens every day. It’s time for the citizens to take what’s theirs, and to evict Bankia’s management from all the public property they are illegally occupying.

If we really want to make revolution, then let’s stop talking about it in endless assemblies, and let’s get it done.

March to Congress, 27-O

In Madrid, Spain on 27 October 2012 at 22:01

Solfonica performing at Neptuno, photo via @acampadasol

October 27, 2300 hrs

Dear people,

Today was the last of three days of actions planned by the 25S for the end of October. Forty thousand people marched from Plaza España to congress, according to positive estimates. I can’t confirm the number, but I can say that it was pretty big.

The choice for Plaza España was symbolic. Around the square you will find some of the highest skyscrapers of Madrid, and they are completely empty. With five hundred evictions per day in Spain, you could fill them up in a couple of days.

We take the Gran Vía. We have the drummers with us, and they make the difference. Protest is so much more powerful if there is a good beat to it.

Neptuno is filled with people already when the march arrives. And there’s more music. The Solfonica orchestra gave one of their spectacular performances in the middle of the crowd.

Another performance picked up the news from these days in a very confrontational way. Six people walked up to the barricades, white as corpses, with a rope around their neck. ‘Evictions’ was one of the signs they carried. ‘Unemployment’, was another. It has reached 25% (52% among youngsters), and it made all the headlines.

At nine o’ clock people sat down with their backs to congress, waving their hands, observing a minute of silence. It brought back sweet memories of Acampada Sol last year. Afterwards, a simple slogan thundered over the square. ‘Resignation! Resignation!’

An assembly was organised to speak about how to continue the protest, but it wasn’t well-structured, and moreover, it was cold. Very cold and windy. So people soon left.

Winter is here. And the evictions continue implacably, every day. So the struggle will have to continue as well. The next appointment in Madrid is for November 1-4. ‘Agora 99′, a meeting of European activists on debt, rights and democracy. Everyone is invited.

Standoff at Bankia

In Madrid, Spain on 26 October 2012 at 19:24

October 26

Dear people,

After Bankia’s refusal to negotiate, the campers took action. At one o’ clock in the afternoon they occupied the Bankia franchise in Alcalà 1, at the corner of Puerta del Sol.

Police went in after them and sealed off the entrance against sympathisers and press who assembled outside.

The occupiers demanded an end to the evictions, and the right to for those at risk of eviction to stay in their houses, paying a social rent.

Bankia is owned by the people. It is now officially supposed to serve the public instead of its shareholders. They don’t know it yet and they have a hard time to adapt to the idea. They can’t even dole out bonuses to their managers next Christmas. Not because the government doesn’t allow them, but because the EU wouldn’t have it.

The hours went by and the management persisted in its refusal to negotiate. Around five o’ clock, the occupiers sent out a comuniqué. It was read to the press on the bank’s doorstep.

They had been denied water. One of them suffering from diabetes was denied medical attention. On the outside there was medical personnel ready with food and water, there was a human rights observer. None of them could enter. According to the comuniqué the occupiers were even denied access to the toilet.

Rumours going around said that they were subject to arrest in case they wet themselves. All the same, the occupiers vowed to continue.

The people outside were not many. And half of them were press. Those who weren’t kept singing that their comrades inside were not alone. And that “Bankia kills”.

Yesterday’s suicide is not the only one linked to an eviction. More cases are surfacing. It’s just that none of those had been theatrical enough to be picked up by the media.

Bankia’s management found itself in a difficult situation. They were up against people with nothing to lose. If they had opted for arrest and violent dispersion of the people outside, it could have had enormous repercussions.

The bank should have closed at three. At a quarter past seven, the occupiers walked out of the side entrance. They had gained a tactical victory. Finally, Bankia had agreed to negotiate with people collectively about a social rent. They also agreed to defer next Monday’s eviction.

The occupiers accepted, adding that they will not lift their camp in front of Bankia HQ, because they don’t have any reason to trust the bankers. They will also formally denounce the way they were treated.

It’s a first step. If it doesn’t lead anywhere, people will return to occupy the bank on the inside. After all, since it was nationalised, Bankia is public space.