One hot, long Spanish August coming up! The poo-poo is reaching the end of its graceful parabolic path towards the ventilator and is threatening not only the livelihoods but the vacations of millions of Spaniards. Nothing happens in Spain in August; August is vacaciones, cerrado, adiós until mid-September. Sure, there are 11 other months in the year, but they are not August. Being forced to work in August may cause more social revolt than anything we’ve seen so far.
So here is how August is shaping up so far: president Zapatero just announced early elections on the 20th of November, Spain’s debt risk is rising to new record highs and the Spanish stock exchange is dropping like a stone. Meanwhile, yesterday the 2nd of August, the Spanish 15-M movement suddenly reappeared and may well be on collision course with the upcoming visit of the Vatican Vulture to Madrid. We’ve spoken of the lobster syndrome before, when the social waters are so hot they break to a boil at the slightest movement. This seems to be what is happening in Madrid right now.
Although the 15-M movement officially lifted camp a month and a half ago, there was a small group of some 30 hard-core protesters who were still camping out in Madrid’s centric Plaza del Sol square. Early this morning, 300 policemen dropped by the camp and told the protesters they had 5 min. to pick up and clear out. By 8 AM, the sanitation brigades were cleaning up the final remains of the 15-M movement… or so it seemed.
The news spread like wildfire: the camp was gone and there had been practically no resistance (except the kid being dragged away in the feature photo). The Mayor was happy, the shop owners of the Plaza del Sol area were happy and the church authorities were happy too. The same could not be said of the hundreds of people that began making their way back to the square to take up the protest all over again; hundreds which rapidly reached thousands, leading city authorities to take an unprecedented measure: completely closing off the square, including the Metro station, which had remained open the entire duration of the original protests. This probably made the shop owners even happier as they went from slightly fewer clients to no clients at all.
Physically impeded from reaching the square, the protesters took the main streets leading to it and sat down. This is the state of the situation as I write these words. There has been no violence, yet, but the tension is thick and likely to become thicker if the situation prolongs itself in time to coincide with the papal visit, which itself will coincide with the celebration of the World Youth Day in Madrid, which is expected to congregate 1.5 million Vatican Youth in the city.
The celebration, from the 16th to the 21st of August, is in fact the reason many believe is behind the “sudden” decision to clear out the Plaza del Sol. It is dogma of faith that the Pope is not to be subject to ugly sights, especially in his Western domains of Hispania, but it is also fair enough to point out that any event bringing 1.5 million people to the city was going to lead to the same conclusion. The Plaza del Sol is, after all, the axle of the wheel, kilometer zero of all roads leading to Madrid and the symbol of Madrid’s hegemony over the rest of Spain.
Nominally, there is no beef between the 15-M movement and the church, but there’s no love lost either. Both sides know that come the crunch they will be standing apart, not together. The church, of course, is an integral part of the slavery paradigm and feeds like a leech on the body public, so they are no more interested in real democracy than Franco was. The 15-M movement, however, is keeping its sights fixed on more pressing issues like employment, the banksters and the bankrupt political system.
Right now, many things remain to be seen. Firstly, the expected number of people who will be arriving in the city for the Youth Day may be grossly overestimated; secondly, the 15-M protesters may have disbanded by then and thirdly, maybe both groups can coexist in peace in the streets of the beautiful, open city of Madrid.
Another possibility is that someone, somewhere decides to ensure the papal visit is incorrupt by the sight of protesting slaves, even if this means removing them by force. This would evidently be a very bad idea, which does not mean it will not be implemented as the association of shop owners today publicly called for force be used if necessary to remove protesters from the streets for the Pope’s visit, a statement which is akin to standing in front of a bull and waving a red cape at it. Now, who would do something as stupid as… oh. Never mind.
75 years ago, the streets of the cities and towns of this country ran red with the blood of Spaniards killed by Spaniards in a fratricidal civil war. The war may seem far away to be indignant youth in the streets today, but the very same divide, in essence, that fed the conflict then still exists today. The same forces are at play under different guises, but now we know so much more about the system and how it really works than our grandparents knew back in 1936… let’s not allow their sacrifice be in vain. No more killing each other for the elite’s divide and conquer benefit. How long can our veneer of democracy last before it reveals itself for what it’s always been: business as usual, with more bread and circus for the slaves? Because when that happens, it will be too late…