Socialist Worker

Spanish activists: ‘We are building bridges between different sections of the movement’

Siân Ruddick spoke to some activists taking part in the protests. Miguel is an unemployed worker living in Seville. Jesus is a biology teacher in Pablo de Olavide University in Seville. Miguel and Jesus are in En Lucha. Jaime Pastor is a member of the

Issue No. 2254

Miguel: “Mass assemblies take place in the square. These deal with the practical points of what to do the next day or in the next week.

“We are building neighbourhood committees and trying to get assemblies in the workplaces.

“There are workers involved in the protests but they do not come as organised workers.

“There are also many young people who are in insecure jobs and feel their conditions and wages and security under attack.

“This week we took a delegation from the camp around many job centres in Seville.

“We stopped outside each one with a megaphone and held 10 minute street meetings. We gave out leaflets and talked with people about joining in, and the issues.

“I have been an activist and union militant for a while and have never seen such strong support from the unemployed. They feel like it is their movement.

“Just before the protests started there were articles in the media saying that people in Spain were resigned to their fate and would not fight. But people are inspired.”

Jesus: “Lots of students at the university in Seville are involved in the mobilisations and the camps.

“There are students, young and old without jobs, workers, and people from the neighbourhoods all taking part in the mobilisations.

“We are trying to extend the struggle in the square to the outside world—into the neighbourhoods, workplaces and on campus.

“The radical left is fighting for some demands and positions.

“Many people are looking for alternatives. We are building bridges between different sections of the movement.

“In En Lucha we raise the slogan, ‘If there is no future within capitalism, let’s build a future without it’. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Jaime: “There is enormous solidarity for the movement among the people. Thousands took part last week in a demonstration against the attacks on pensions.

“There are significant acts of civil disobedience and a rejection of the decisions made by the central electoral system. This is a new kind of movement.

“It is questioning and criticising the official politics.

“The government and the main parties have already moved from their position in the first week of dismissing the movement.

“The growth and deepening of the movement will build more pressure.

“The unions have to change—at least start to listen.

“This movement doesn’t have a leader, which means the unions and big political parties cannot co-opt it. So they will have to listen and make proposals to the movement.”

Miguel: “There is an ongoing discussion about what demands to raise. There are some that ask for reforms —for reform of the electoral system to stop it from favouring the two main parties.

“And there are other groups of people discussing anti-capitalism and how to relate the movement to the working class.

“The main slogans here in Seville are, ‘It looks like democracy but it’s not’ and ‘From Cairo to Seville, we are not slaves’. They sound much better in Spanish!

“There is also a slogan that says, ‘There is no democracy if the market governs.’

“People are talking about jobs, unemployment, housing, taking the money from the banks and so on.

“People’s ideas are changing and generalising towards a critique of the whole system.”

Jaime: “The movement spans many different ideas, we cannot say it has one single alternative. We can say clearly what they don’t want.

But they discuss demands to reform the political system, the housing crisis, and against the privilege of the political class.”

Jesus: “We have initiated a commission of workers and unemployed to go out to workplaces and help to organise meetings.

“We need to make sure there are many people on the coming demonstrations and we build the links.

“We are in a moment that is very important.”

Jaime: “The change has come because of the economic crash. Criticism has grown out of the social and economic policies that caused the crisis, and the ones being implemented in response.

“This is a huge opportunity to have the voice of opposition heard.

“There are discussions about when to leave the camp and spread the movement throughout the city.

“Everyone is conscious they have to move to another stage, to move beyond the initial period.”

Miguel: “People say that we are part of the same movement as the Arab revolutions, that gives people a sense of strength and solidarity. We hold up signs about Tahrir Square in Cairo.

“There are big challenges ahead. We look at Greece and France and see the very deep struggles they have had, but the gains have been limited.

“There are serious questions about the way forward.

“We have called a mass mobilisation for 19 June—we want to fill every street in Spain.

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