June 20, 2013
Spain ‘Indignants’: a movement without a leader, formed by leaders
By Ana Patiño.-
Nowadays we can see plenty of massive pacific protests across the world, as the “Indignants” of New York who camped at Zuccotti Park, or the march for “Global Change” held on October 15 known as the 15-O.
What were the consequences of the Spanish “Indignants,” whose May 15 (15M) movement inspired the world?
Five days after the settlement at the Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid began, the protesters reached consensus over a number of proposals that reflected what people demanded and what had to change in order to improve the country’s situation.
Once they agreed on a manifesto which stated that they are “determined to continue fighting for dignity and political and social awareness,” horizontal and open assemblies were organized in most of the provinces and main cities across the country. Everybody can be part of these assemblies that are held in public spaces, and every decision must be unanimously agreed upon.
“Today, in Madrid, there are 170 assemblies that gather weekly in every neighbourhood, and every Sunday at the Asamblea de Pueblos y Barrios de Madrid (Madrid’s neighbourhoods and towns’ assembly),” Marco Estanislao, an “Indignant” involved in housing and immigration issues, told the BuenosAiresHerald.com.
Six months have passed since the “Indignants” took their camping gear to Puerta del Sol to show their discontent and demand “Real Democracy Now.” Since then, the protesters have divided themselves into committees with different tasks to organize their demands, and to make clear that the movement is here to stay.
There is a group in charge of “politics” that is revising the Constitution, while another group of the same sector analyzes the system in general from a revolutionary point of view. There is also an Economics group in charge of debates and heading demonstrations in front of the Stocks Exchange building, informing and denouncing the scepticism of the economic system. They are also creating consumer cooperatives, barter markets, among others.
Other groups are Housing and Immigration, in which Estanislao is involved since the beginning of the movement. Regarding the housing group, they have made a census of those who the banks have taken their houses from in order to give them a place to live, even if it means occupying abandoned buildings.
Manuel Guedán, who works with the “Indignants” at Lavapiés neighbourhood, stated that even two buildings were occupied during the 15-O march.
Meanwhile, the immigration committee has developed a system of phone calling whenever the police hold anti-immigrants raids - which are illegal and frequent - in Madrid. People sends a message to those who are in the lists in order to warn them that there is a new raid being carried out, so they rapidly go to that particular place and only by shouting “Shame, shame” they manage to stop the aggression.
Although participation levels have dropped since May and June, new groups and assemblies have been created, according to Estanislao. Besides, there is a higher level of commitment and the coordination of all the sectors of the 15M keep growing.
As the 20N (November 20) – day of Spain’s election - comes closer, the activists of the 15M make clear that “flags and logos are not involved” in their movement, meaning that their intention is not to create a political party, but to wake up the people’s minds so they can be aware of what is happening around them. Estanislao assured that a political party would “kill the identity of the 15M, it would turn it into a very different thing, less revolutionary.”
He added that they are not against the current political parties, “it’s just that the movement is heading to another way. We are focused in changing the idea of party that they sell to us, and of course, strengthen the other side of this balance, that is the citizenship.”
“After the positive result of the 15O, November’s general elections are the next aim that the 15M will face,” Guedán assured and added that the General Assembly of Sol has already created a specific committee to face the election.
As the 15M does not intend to be represented by a bloc, Estanislao believes that most of the people involved in the movement might vote left-wing minority parties, appeal to blank ballots, spoilt their votes or abstain to vote.
Nevertheless, Guedán insists that in the day of the election “we can expect actions that question the current system and call for active critical conscience, but nobody expects to be told of a specific party to vote or to be absent in the polling stations. Their vote is individual.”
The “Indignants” of Spain are aware that the movement has spread all over the world, even reaching the United States. They praise the fact that they also use sign language in the assemblies as they do, and keep in contact with other “Indignants” so as to increase the awareness of the global situation. Through social networks, they organized the first global march on October 15 to celebrate the first five months of the movement in Spain, and to remind the authorities and the world that citizens have their own voice.