protests in Greece and Spain on the eve of a Mediterranean Spring?

Another “Los Indignados” style rally was held on Friday afternoon in downtown Syntagma Square in Athens, while on Sunday rallies are to be held in all European capitals.

According to a report in today’s Athens News, the protests that began three days ago (and that have already spread to another seven cities across Greece) are set to continue. Click here  to read the full story.

Although little information is being broadcast in Western media, the Greek people have now picked up the baton with the Spanish and started congregating on mass to protest against the current “austerity” wave sweeping Europe. Demonstrations are already planned to take place across Europe this coming Sunday.

protests in Athens on 25th May

In a climate where media arguments are dignifying racism emanating from Germany’s ruling elite, who seem to believe that all Greeks are “lazy” and corrupt, the Greek people have once again taken to the streets to stop the approaching fire sale of public assets that Germany, and the rest of the vultures, are seeking to buy for fractions of their real value. Not only will this looting bring Greece to its knees for an unforeseen number of years ahead, it will also be setting the tone for the coming new Europe, one built on corporate deregulation and the more widespread selling off of national wealth.

With Europe-wide strikes yet to start, is this the first test for the people to call for real change? A change that is initially asking for an end to these preposterous cuts and an investment in work and jobs, and no less importantly, calling for an overhaul of the political systems that have been allowed to develop across democratic countries, where politicians have become inseparable in their views and unwilling to put the people’s interests ahead of the interests of business and the markets. Put simply, the doublespeak called ‘The Free Market’ is being called to account and the Spanish and Greeks are leading the way…

We don’t want war, we want peace; we don’t want cuts, we want investment in our infrastructures; we don’t want to be held hostage by financial systems, we want the freedom to enjoy life and not be a slave to it; we want education, work and opportunities to advance our lives and make us feel part of our communities. We don’t want to be held hostage by corporations, who now regulate and oversee the majority of the world’s major media, we want to be educated and enjoy being alive.

With money markets and country’s economies treated like toys, or laboratories, the message is plain: this path is unsustainable. And one can only hope that the strong rise in nationalism currently bubbling under the surface in Greece (and other places) does not cloud the issue. Let’s hope these protests can start a chain of events that will make our voices heard in a way they have never been heard before.

The current Greek President Papandreou is better known for his perfect American than his perfect Greek, and so having being caught out lying about the nature of the IMF’s involvement (Papandreou claiming that the IMF had contacted Greece, whereas, according to the IMF, the Greek government had already submitted an official application before any negotiations started)1, surely it will only be a matter of time before he is removed from the ongoing deal-making process. With ruling Pasok being the party of unions, it will also only be a matter of time before the necessities of survival overtake the reality of political allegiance, leaving the heads of Unions to act in the interests of its members and not its political head.

There are also big meetings planned in Spain this weekend. The aim is, so far as I understand, to come up with a direction in the coming days through consensus with those protesting, then, this weekend to have 250 meetings across Madrid; with the delegates then dispersed across regions and communities in Spain to inform other citizens directly about fresh ideas and directions. And with further demonstrations planned across Europe this weekend, people are now calling their governments to account, understanding that their tax money and national wealth should be used for the betterment of their country to effect real change, which is a direct challenge to the ruling elites, who treat our money, and more importantly our lives, as statistics that demean our value as individuals.

This message of support was written by greek gadfly

greek gadfly is a film-maker who has spent the last five years living between Greece, Spain and England.

Click here for further information on the protests taking place in Greece.

Or to watch a live stream of the protests:

Meanwhile, on May 26th, Democracy Now! reported on protests that have spread to more than a dozen cities across Spain. The “Toma la Plaza” or “Take the Square” movement began spontaneously on May 15th when people gathered in the central plaza with demands for a more representative electoral system, and an end to political corruption. Independent journalist Maria Carrion and protest spokesperson Ivan Martinoz explained the situation to Amy Goodman:

1 [a statement on the communication between its chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Prime Minister George Papandreou] stresses that “in the case of Greece these talks concerned the Greek government’s appeal for the provision of know-how regarding the preparation of the budget and tax evasion” and that “there were no negotiations and no agreement on economic aid between the Greek government and the IMF before the official application Greece submitted for economic aid at the end of April 2010.” from an article entitled “IMF on Strauss-Kahn – Papandreou talks”, published by Athens News on May 5th 2011.


1 Comment

Filed under analysis & opinion, campaigns & events, Greece, Spain, Uncategorized

One response to “protests in Greece and Spain on the eve of a Mediterranean Spring?

  1. Marta

    The protests against “debtocracy” that are taking place in Spain at the moment are the biggest thing we’ve seen in this country since the end of the Franco era. The great thing about this movement, “Democracia Real Ya” (“Real Democracy Now”), is that it’s peaceful, well informed and well organized, and thoroughly critical and independent of current political parties. There was violent police repression two days ago here in Barcelona on the flimsiest of excuses: the government argued that protesters camping on Plaça Catalunya needed to be moved “for their own good” as football celebrations might endanger them. The result was several casualties among the protesters, who nevertheless went back to the square shortly after, and were there still last night. There has been quite a lot of media coverage here, although often of a shallow or patronizing sort, and politicians seem at a loss as to what to do. Last Sunday’s council and regional elections yielded a victory for the right wing, but there was also massive abstention and a huge rise in the number of null or blank votes, which many people use to express their protest agains widespread political corruption. For those who can read Spanish, I recommend the movement’s official website . Among other things, they advocate legal measures against bankers and a stop to the austerities imposed by financial markets.


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