Monday, May 23, 2011

A shout from Spain

Life in the camp in Madrid: self-management, solidarity and direct action.

A week has gone by since we took over Puerta del Sol in Madrid. Every day it changes shape, grows and diversifies.

There is now a vegetable patch around the fountain, a library area, 4 food points (food is brought by nearby shops and neighbours), portable toilets brought by some locals, a kids area, workshops, actions… People walk around cleaning, giving out water and sun cream, asking if anybody needs a hand, discussing politics, offering fresh fruit etc.

But the best part is when you walk around: the surrounding plazas and streets are patched with dozens and even hundreds of people gathered in circles of debate, proposing and exposing ideas on: health, politics, environment, feminism, infrastructure, education, communications…etc. This is happening night and day (despite police trying to dissolve some of them).

Everyone is deciding how they want things done, by ourselves, with no representatives telling us what and how to.

Despite that, despite that there is this system in place in this small piece of the world, people still fall into fear and laziness. Despite what we are now living this, day to day, they still give their vote to the political class (creating again a 'them' and 'us'). The right wing party (PP) won the elections for Madrid last night, because people think they can do better but: WE can do better. That's why some of us (some) don't care what party is in control: Next week we will spread to the nearby districts, towns and villages hoping that people will open their eyes to a new way of doing things. We will not leave Sol until we manage to spread our ideas and gain strength elsewhere.

Inside it is hard to keep things truly horizontal and consensual. It doesn't matter if it takes long to decide something as long as everyone is happy with the decisions gained. We don't believe in minorities, nobody should be set aside. We are going slowly because we are going far.

Sexism is present, as well as fights for the spotlight, amongst other forms of exclusion. But, it's only been a week, and in that time the camp and some of the ideas coming out of it is giving hope to many.

Day one there were just a handful of people sitting in Sol after a massive demonstration on May 15th. That night the police brutally evicted them. Also after the demonstration some spent 2 horrid days in police custody, and were mistreated by the forces of the Spanish state. (The mass media have failed to pick up on that one).
The next day people kept coming, until there were thousands in the square.

Aside from what is happening, I don't think that Madrid is the epicentre of anything new. Some, here and abroad, have been fighting for years to spread a similar way of doing things in social centres, squats, collectives…etc. It is time to open up so that the masses at least realise that we can all be equal, that we can take control of our lives, that we can get directly involved with our most immediate surroundings…

We can use this moment to gain strength, act and re-act, now that the world is watching, to shout out loud that we need the space for thinking, learning and self management.

If you want more info on what´s happening in Sol:

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