Over 100,000 trade unionists marched in Barcelona against the European Union (EU) summit two days before the anti-capitalist demo. The march was organised by the European Federation of Trade Unions. Hundreds of coaches, plus a train and a plane, came from other areas of Spain. And some 20,000 trade unionists came from France and Italy, with smaller delegations from other countries.
They were fighting over the same issues as Saturday's anti-capitalist march, and many voiced the same anger against capitalism and war. 'Governments should be investing in work and jobs, and not spending money on war,' metal worker Fernando Lopez told Socialist Worker.
Hospital worker Maria Rosa Vinolas said, 'The powerful men of capital and finance are gathering here in Barcelona to make more profits. We have a task to unite all European workers to fight. They want to globalise capital and money. We want to globalise opposition to them.'
'I'm deeply angry at war and at the massive power the Israeli government is using to crush the Palestinians. The EU governments should do more to stop this kind of terror,' said Pedro Abad from the city of Tervel.
One of the liveliest contingents on the march was a group of young students behind a banner saying 'Workers and students unite'. It was led by supporters of Socialist Worker's sister paper in Spain, En Lucha. A group of young workers from the UGT union federation in Aragon joined the contingent. Other trade unionists cheered their anti-capitalist songs and slogans.
Meetings on every corner
For three days Barcelona was a festival of protest against capitalism. On the day before the march everywhere you walked you bumped into a demonstration, political street theatre, mural painting and other activities against capitalism.
Students occupied the university building, which became a centre of debate and discussion. I joined a 'lobby hunt' against the multinational fat cats who buy the favours of governments. Two thousand young people had made costumes to perform theatre outside banks, and the big water and electricity companies.
They had written manifestos condemning privatisation and exploitation of workers in the pursuit of profit. Laia, a student in Barcelona, said, 'We're against capitalism and want to stop the rule of the bankers. We need to take the money off them and insist it is invested in caring for people, finding homes for the homeless, and looking after the environment.'
Neus from Valencia added, 'All governments talk about creating social affluence, but it is only for the few. Even in the rich countries of Europe masses of people are in poverty. The cause of all this misery is the system of money and capital. That is why we want to target the big multinationals, the banks and the firms involved in privatisation.'
The police attacked this entirely peaceful demonstration. Such intimidation could not stop the hunger for debate about alternatives to the system.
This was shown on the morning of Saturday's demo, when thousands of people took part in workshops and debates about building an alternative to capitalism. At a workshop on 'The Gulf War to 11 September', Chris Nineham from Globalise Resistance in Britain was given a huge round of applause for his speech which linked globalisation and war.