'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, March 29, 2012

General Strike in Spain/Clashes in Barcelona 

UPDATE 2: A first hand account from Oscar Reyes in Barcelona, posted at Red Pepper:

* Over 1,000 people joined the march from our neighbourhood (Sant Andreu) into town. It wasn’t the 'usual suspects'. It was the regulars of our local high street – where most shops were closed – transplanted onto Meridiana, a major six-lane road into the centre of Barcelona. The good-humored march was one of numerous feeder marches that helped to bring the city to a standstill. The unions report an 800,000-strong demonstration. El Pais puts it at over 275,000.

* It isn’t hard to find evidence of clashes in the centre of town. Barricades had been lit on many of the road junctions around Diagonal, a well-off shopping district. These are being cleared away by street sweepers. But it’s the details that are telling here: the bin lorries are each placarded with 'serveis minims' [minimum service]. Most of the banks have had their windows smashed. They are cordoned off, but there is no attempt at a clean up here.

UPDATE 1: From the Guardian:

Demonstrators brought the centres of Madrid, Barcelona and other cities to a standstill as trade unions claimed the strike was more widely supported than previous nationwide stoppages in 2010 and 2002. Rajoy's officials claimed, however, that the 2010 strike against a socialist government had received greater support.

Electricity consumption fell by 17%, suggesting the strike was impacting on major industries – though most shops appeared to be open in Madrid.

Street fires were set in both Madrid and Barcelona, where roads into the city were blocked, but there were few reports of serious violence.

The strike was most successful where Spain's big two unions, the General Workers Union and the Workers Commissions, are strongest – in large factories, the civil service and transport.

General Workers leader Cándido Méndez put average participation at midday at 77% but said that it was 97% in industry and construction.

This strike has been an unquestionable success, he said.

Civilized protest looked unlikely to alter the determination of the government to drive on with reforms and austerity.


There was a general strike in Spain today to protest the austerity policies being imposed by the government and the European Union. The police in Barcelona have used rubber bullets and tear gas, with reports of people smashing shop windows. Meanwhile, there have been large protest marches in Madrid and Barcelona. For a Guardian video report of events in Barcelona today, go here. For a livestream broadcast from Barcelona through the Global Revolution website, with English subtitles, go here. For Twitter updates in Spanish and English, go to the #M29 hashtag. Other video sources can be found through Twitter and YouTube as well.

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