Posts Tagged ‘Acampada Sol’

Twilight of the Bricks

In #GlobalRevolution, Madrid, Spain on 20 May 2013 at 00:50
The stage

The stage

Madrid, May 19

Dear people,

The Belgian uprising against the Dutch started in a theatre in 1830. Three decades later, the Italians were roused by Verdi’s operas to throw off the yoke of the Austrians. Today, after an amazing performance, it was once again from a theatrical stage that people were invited to rise up.

It took months of preparation. The scenes, the costumes, the music, the songs. Over 150 people took part in the production. The premiere was tonight in the grand hall of Tabacalera Social Centre, a 15M operetta in one act, 45 minutes, accompanied by the Solfonica orchestra. ‘El Crepuscolo del Ladrillo‘, or: ‘The Twilight of the Bricks’.

I was lucky I got in with the press, because the line of people waiting outside went all around the block. There were two shows planned initially, but to satisfy the popular demand, a third show was performed late in the evening. It was a triumph. I couldn’t have hoped for a more stylish return to Madrid.

Basically, the operetta is a very concise history of Spain over the last few decades, culminating in economic crisis and revolt. The libretto was written by José Manuel Naredo, with clear foresight, over twenty years ago. It was adapted and performed in a scenery that represented Acampada Sol.

The Solfonica during the repetitions.

The Solfonica during the repetitions.

For me, who had the privilege to have been there in those days, it was a wonderful déja vu. Not just to see stage pieces painted with the clock tower of Puerta del Sol and the crowded square, but also the cardboard reproductions of the most symbolic slogans and banners. Most famously, the enormous image of Heinrich Himmler with Mickey Mouse ears and a euro logo on his forehead, which dominated the occupied square for weeks. Art was evanescent in the Acampada Sol, and to find it reproduced was a testimony to its value.

The Solfonica starts to play and the stage is filled with happy people. Definitely I’m not the only one with goosebumps. The scene is bucolic, full of love and peace. And backwardness, poverty, or so it seems. But the government officials have the answer. Speculation, privatisation, cement, cement, cement. With the benediction of the church, because frugality is sinful, and investment is good, be it in gold or cement or indulgences.

People flock to the cities, to the factories, the days of old come to an end, and nobody cares for as long as money keeps flowing. Then crisis strikes. People are depressed, the government doesn’t know what to do, so an expert is hired to come up with a solution. This includes a lot of lofty phrases, and comes down to new technologies, communication sciences, services, networks, etc. Eurocrats and economists start to implement the measures. Efficiency is the key. But when the economy collapses once more, the only solution is austerity, discipline, control.

At that point it’s the dream fairy who inspires people to wake up, to recuperate their freedom, their music, their happiness, their love for life. And to overthrow their government, to take the stage, all together, for the grand finale.

During the thunderous applause that followed, a banner was raised by the actors, with a simple message. ‘Rebellion’.

The performance of the Twilight of the Bricks was one night only. But you might be lucky. According to rumours the show will go on tour. If you don’t catch it, you can find the stream of the live broadcast here…


Winters at Sol

In Madrid, Spain on 7 February 2013 at 20:16
Occupation of BBVA bank in Barcelona, 7 Feb. Photo via @Xaviandreu

Occupation of BBVA bank in Barcelona, 7 Feb. Photo via @Xaviandreu

February 7

Dear people,

To the thoughtful words with which Ada Colau had presented the popular bill against foreclosures in the senate economic commission, the authorities have responded with a platoon of riot police.

At four o’ clock in the morning police evicted the protest camp in front of Bankia headquarters, where a few dozen people had spent the winter to demonstrate against a public bank that throws its own citizens out on the street.

Outrage exploded early in the morning. In Barcelona a BBVA bank franchise was occupied all day long. In Madrid, student protests continue as we speak. On the Puerta del Sol, the General Assembly of the ongoing occupation has just launched its manifesto… (Eng)

“On February 3 (…) we decided to stay in our Plaza del Sol [sic] (…)

We belong to the streets, the streets belong to us, we will not leave.

We are citizens fighting against corruption. We are people united by the same interests and we want to claim and stimulate civic struggle.

(…) we appeal to the people to mobilize and demand with us the effective investigation of illegitimate debt, the mass resignation of the government, the repeal of the current constitution and the formation of a constituent assembly to prepare a new constitution capable of returning citizens power over markets and economic corporations, which currently have kidnapped the rule of law.

We need your ideas, your actions and your media. We are young, elderly, students, the unemployed, workers, pensioners, evicted…

We are winters at Sol.”


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.

A History of Acampada Sol

In Acampada Sol, Madrid, Spain on 13 November 2011 at 20:56

Acampada Sol in the third week

Dear people,

I have been emptying my summer jacket’s right inside pocket, the one that I marked as ‘archive’. A whole lot of material from the Acampada Sol came out of it, including the original maps.

I also went through some of my oldest dispatches. I have been covering the 15M movement since the beginning, but until after the end of the acampada I was exclusively reporting in Dutch.

So I translated my initial reports. It’s a first hand history of what happened in Sol. If you want the guided tour of the place, be sure to check out the June 11 entry: Acampada Soul.

Soon I’ll be back on revolutionary road. And if I find anything interesting, you will be sure to hear from me.



May 21 – “The Key is in Sol”

About a goat sheperd who suddenly finds himself in the midst of a revolution.

May 25 – Portrait of an Acampada

General sketch after ten days of occupation.

May 27 – Comisión Comunicación

Your truly walks into the Communications office. He never left since.

May 27 – Catalonia is not Alone

Police clears the square in Barcelona by force to make room for football celebrations.

May 28 – A Visit from the East

A girl from China comes by at Communications. We discover we have more in common than we think, if only we found the right words for it.

May 29 – La Bastille

The movement expands into the neighbourhoods and villages. The first General Popular Assembly of Madrid convenes in Puerta del Sol.

May 30 – “¡Sol Resiste!

Our comrades in Paris have been evicted from the Bastille. We march in solidarity to the French embassy. There’s a tempest in the air.

May 31 – Extending the Field of Battle

At Extension the echoes of our movement are coming in from all over the world.

June 1 – The Times of Puerta del Sol

Trying to capture a day of acampada, and to make a newspaper out it.

June 1 – Ye Olde Clocke

A homage to Puerta del Sol.

June 2 – 21st Century Revolution

On audiovisuals and contemporary urban guerilla. Sol is under threat of eviction.

June 2 – The Summer of 2011

On the daily business of revolution. On Walt Disney.

June 3 – Web 3.0

On social media and liberty of action.

June 4 – Democracy from the Bottom Up

The interacampadas or National Assembly convenes in Sol.

June 5 – Murcia Mon Amour

On the press. On alternative roads to democracy, the Murcia case.

June 6 – Buy Tear Gas!

On sedition. Some free investment advice.

June 7 – Angel of the Revolution

On discouragement. On a girl with a camera who saves the day.

June 8 – The End of the Beginning

The assembly decides on lifting the acampada on June 12 with a great happening.

June 9 – “To Parliament!”

Parliament is besieged by surprise. It turns into a happy celebration.

June 10 – Respect!

A friend of mine comes to visit the acampada from Holland. On libertarianism and anarchism. On reasons for joining the revolution.

June 11 – Acampada Soul

A guided tour of the acampada, the day before it disappears, ‘for the history books’. Original maps included.

June 12 – Darth Vader

The new city council is sworn in. And we don’t let it pass by without making some noise.

June 13 – Brand New Day

On the final day of the acampada, and the day after. On a square that is polished to shine.

21st Century Revolution

In Acampada Sol, Madrid, Spain on 2 June 2011 at 22:47


In the eastern outskirts of Puerta del Sol you will find a statue of a bear climbing up against a tree. It is the symbol of Madrid. Since the occupation it has been turned into Speaker’s Corner.

Today there was a Moorish woman standing on a box with a three foot long receipt in her hand. I couldn’t read what was printed on it from a distance, but much of it was highlighted in yellow. She talked about Jesus, and the list in her hand was filled with sins. She makes a great emotional performance out of it. She looks like Mary Magdalene. The people gathered around listen silently and nod. A woman has a tear in her eyes. “If you believe in Jesus”, says Magdalena, and she puts her hand on her heart, “then the whole bill will be paid.”

I love it. This is also part of the revolution.

I return to the Communications tent. These days it’s my home. You can find me there almost the entire day, writing, translating, gathering information or talking to people. Occasionally I walk over to the Extension commission to look at the world map, which is covered by more and more red dots every day. Now it’s also happening in Buenos Aires. We are on all continents. I am content when I go back to read the daily reports from the French squares. A seed has been sown, and it has begun to germinate.

A comrade of Food I comes up to the counter. He beckons me enthusiastically. “The shopkeepers have been saying that they make 80% less revenue because of Sol. That is utter nonsense.” He shows me a series of printed sheets with numbers. “These are the sales figures of the five closest Starbucks branches over the last two weeks of May. Compared to last year they have made ten percent more profit.”

“Fabulous!” I say. “We should published this immediately. Where did you get this?”

“I work at Starbucks. I gained access to the system.”

These are our boys. We are everywhere, and we are unstoppable.

In the evening an emergency meeting is held in Communications. The mood is down. We have just received a message that 700 elite troops of the Spanish riot police are marching in three columns to Madrid. It only takes the order of the internal affairs minister for them to begin the eviction.

What to do? We have a protocol. We sit down, we lock arms and we don’t respond to provocations. SMS messages will be sent out in all directions: “Sol is cleared. Come help us.” But I have my doubts whether it will be a matter of photogenic and romantic resistance. “Try to reason from their point of view,” I say, “if they want to vacate the square they will do it at five o’clock in the morning when the least number of people is present. A clean sweep. It will be over before it can be properly documented. Keep this in mind. Continue to upload data and make sure USB devices are well hidden.”
On the table in the back our friend Mehmet continues to upload videos onto the Internet. I tell him about the police mobilisation. It almost seems as though he is satisfied. “Really? It can start any time now?”

“Any time now,” I say.

We decide to take a stroll around our village. Who knows, it might be the last evening. We walk under the tarpaulin through the center, past the Library into the “suburbs” on the edge of the square, where most of the tents are pitched. People are singing and playing the guitar. We walk back through the streets on the other side, to Eastern part of the square where the General Assembly meets every night. Mehmet is an extraordinary person. He has a political awareness and culture that amazes me. He speaks just as passionately about Marx and Engels, as he does about Buddha, Spinoza and Tolkien. He tells me a great story about anarchists who have stolen the ashes of Trotsky from his urn in Mexico two years ago. They mixed the ashes with flour and baked cookies with them. Then they sent them to Trotskyist parties all around the world. “Have a taste. At least that prophet of yours is good for something!”
I adopted him as my little brother. We stand in the middle of the square where the General Assembly has just ended. We observe our village under the clock of Puerta del Sol.

“Mehmet,” I say, “I have this idea that many people are focussed on the search for truth, be it in a religion or in an ideology, in philosophy or science, or in the revolution. I do not understand this. What’s so exciting about the truth?”

“You can only feel it. It absorbs you”, he says. “People are fascinated by truth because they fear it. The truth is the only thing that isn’t subject to change, the only thing that never decays. And that’s nothing. Horror vacui is where it all comes down to.”

“Then I still don’t understand it”, I say. “I do not feel it. Maybe because I am more fascinated by beauty. That’s what I’m looking for. That’s why I’ve joined with the revolution. For aesthetic reasons.”

Mehmet folds his hands in front of his face and nods at me. He has adopted me as a big brother.

We walk over the paths that have been traced between the tents in the suburbs. We join up with a few comrades to suck on a water pipe. We are totally relaxed. Whatever happens, our movement will continue. Greece has awakened, France is awakening and even in Italy there are assemblies being organised. This is the democratic revolution. And we, we are the chosen ones. Not only because we are able to witness it, but also because we have the possibility to be a part of it.

Back at the staff table of Communications we encounter Riccardo, the Sicilian cameraman. He is being visited by Vlad, a comrade of Audiovisual, who also found himself to be in the right place at the right time. He comes from New York and he specialises in live streaming. In two days he taught our Spanish comrades how to set up their own TV channel. After that he went out to grab a beer. Now the Spaniards can manage on their own.

“Good ideas travel quickly in a non-hierarchical society quickly.” Thanks to Vladimir, we have a twenty-four hour news channel on The content is being shot daily by twenty of our comrades. The Assemblies are broadcast live and are currently drawing an average of 8000 viewers. Now Vlad has popped in at Communications to make plans for further expansion. Our new channel is focused on Spain. We also need a channel with content in English. “People are dying to have news from here.” Hence that Mehmet, Riccardo, Vladimir and I have decided on the spot to form the International Brigade. Tomorrow we start shooting material.

The next step is to set up live streaming over mobile phones. In case of police action this is essential. The tactics you should use in this case is ‘the Triangle’, Vlad explains: if there is a crack down somewhere, you need to make sure you have three people on the spot filming from different angles, so that you frame at least one other person with a camera. The police can’t do anything then. If they attack someone who is filming, then someone else will shoot it. And that’s not good for their pr. “It’s like taking out a witness.” Moreover, they can not confiscate the material because it is transmitted directly onto the net. “This tactic was first used in Toronto,” Vlad says, he’s a veteran. “Almost all regular television crews were eliminated. But not one of the guys filming with their phones was arrested.”

In the 21st century urban guerilla is an information war. And we will prevail, comrades. You need not worry about it. The International Brigade is already operational.