Athens, May 14
More or less we managed to hold the group together up until May 12, the day of the worldwide demonstration for direct democracy. It was in greater part thanks to our position in Strefi park on the hill of Exarchia.
The hill consists of two outer ridges and a little valley in between. In the valley, there’s the stone theater, and inside the theater we camped. There was water at 50 metres. If you climbed up the two peaks, you could watch out over the city down to the sea. If you descended, you were in the middle of Exarchia.
Yes, it was a perfect spot for a camping holiday in Athens, if you leave out of account that the park is frequented day and night by drug addicts and other phantomatic appearances.
After a week, we were definitely ready to break up camp. The way it happened was a bit sad, but given all that happened before, it made sense.
On the 11th, we held one of our last internal assemblies at Strefi. Maybe half of the marchers was present. We spoke about the last issue that had to be addressed. The great demonstration of May 12, which we had announced in all the cities and villages along the way.
Last internal assembly at Strefi
The 12M call is a worldwide one, in line with the demonstrations of October 15 last year, but it seems to be picked up mainly by the indignados in Spain and the occupiers from the Anglo-Saxon world.
In Greece, the call for a demonstration has barely even arrived. And that more or less left us, the remnants of the march to Athens, to ‘represent’ Syntagma when we connect to the other squares.
What are we going do?
There will be no demonstration through the streets, there will be no actions. It has been a long time since we had energy or spirit for those kind of things. We will just assemble in Syntagma. And then what? Are we going to try to camp? Are we going to sleep without tents? Are we going to resist? Up to what point? Etc.
The assembly gets interrupted by comrade Marianne. She tells us that we are expected at the ‘Legalise’ festival on the edge of the city, right now.
It was true. But the assembly hesitated. Then it started to drizzle, and people made up their mind. The assembly split up, and over half of the people who remained took down their tents and left for the festival.
You will know that I am all for this legalise thing, we should have gone there and adapted our time schedule, but I hated to see the group fall apart like this, hardly without a word.
I stayed behind. The day of the 12th I spent on the hill around the ailing camp, prey to heavy attacks of melancholy.
Some people trickled back to Strefi during the day. A new assembly was called for, to prepare the great demonstration.
We were about a dozen people, of whom maybe six marchers. We were expected to be in Syntagma at five. It was four thirty when the assembly commenced.
First point, we hadn’t made flags or banners yet, or anything else in the week we were here. Second point, a leftover from the day before. What are we going to do?
At a certain moment, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing any more. Was this a comedy, or were we really trying to maintain a certain air of official assemblary protocol, as if there were still things to talk about or to decide, or to consensuate?
Outside forces had already taken over. We were in the final stages of a big crunch. Five o’ clock had already passed and we were still here, taking speaking turns, making technical interruptions, proposing, blocking, explaining, with the utmost seriousness. The only thing that missed was someone who proposed to take acts, like we used to do when we still believed our assemblies were important.
I think of Hitler’s final days in the bunker. When all fronts had ceded and Berlin was surrounded by the Russians, he kept moving armies that no longer existed, he kept planning the final offensive, he kept believing in the Endsieg.
I leave the assembly, I walk down the hill and through Exarchia to go to Syntagma on my own. We are like a fly, and Athens is a light. Here the March to Athens burns up, and we scatter, like dust in the wind.
On the square, the Athens branch of the 12M demonstration consisted of about thirty people, fifty at most. In greater part they are people from the march. There are a few locals, and also our friends from all along the way have come to meet us. Not all of them are here, unfortunately, but many of them kept their promise.
We put up our old banners and we make music. We have a direct connection with the squares in London, Madrid and Barcelona. I see images of Puerta del Sol full of people, and I look around at Syntagma. Last year I was on the other side of the line and we looked at this square. Monstrous crowds of people were besieging parliament day after day.
That season is over for Greece. There will be no spring this year. Maybe there will in Spain, in Portugal, in America. The images and the news from there leave us a bit of hope. Just like the presence of one of the German marchers who came from Patras in ten days, arriving today. Their march really existed in the end, and there’s someone here to prove it.
As our final theatrical act, we decide to stay on Syntagma. And this time, police allow it.
Camping on Syntagma, May 12
We occupied the square all night. In the morning, after we were woken up by rain, the first tents were placed by Max and Mary. They caused a last piece of discord in the group, because the decision wasn’t taken in assembly. The tents lasted until midday more or less, when the sun was shining again. Police walked by several times to get donuts, and initially the tents were simply ignored.
Tents on Syntagma, morning of May 13
After three donuts police came to say the tents had to go down. Max and Mary took out the supports and left them on the ground. A platoon of riot police was mobilised. They stood there for an hour. Finally the tents were folded.
I left to pick up my stuff on the hill. When I come back in the early evening everyone has gone to the Academy of Plato, for a chat on alternative economies, organic agriculture, bargain etc. No-one was left but comrade Cansino, who took up the name of Kourasmenos when he came to Greece. It means ‘tired’, in Spanish ‘curas menos’, means ‘you do less’. He was sitting under a tree watching around, angry that he was left here alone, without a beer, to watch over other people’s stuff.
Comrade Cansino, a.k.a. ‘Kourasmenos’
I accompany him. The clan is split between the squat, the academy, the square, and who knows where else. Our camp on the hill has definitely been abandoned. It’s maybe the worst day of the march, or the agora, whatever. Officially we have three more days of agora scheduled, even though we don’t know exactly what’s planned for those days.
One of the ideas was to stay in Syntagma. At the moment we are two, during the evening also Nicolas and Juanito return. We are four marchers and two sympathisers who hold the square for the second night in a row. An old lady takes pity on us and brings us a bag of crisps and sweets.
This is what our revolution has become. A handful of people from all over Europe desperately camping in Syntagma. We have come to give moral support to the Greeks, but in the end it’s the Greeks who had to give their moral support to us, to keep us going. And now, finally, the end is near. It’s all in the past, and it weighs down like clouds of marble.
It takes a long time before we catch a bit of sleep. Then at five o’clock in the morning, the sprinklers go on.
Barricades on Syntagma
The second morning.