Amid yet another media spectacular about Muslims, aimed at focusing people’s minds on supposed threats to freedom of expression emanating from elsewhere, it is worth considering what is now happening in Spain. Since the initial bursting forth of the 15-M movement last year, the authorities have sought tirelessly to criminalise and forestall democratic protest, through the introduction of new legislation and often brutal policing measures. This can be seen in the run-up to the next major popular demonstration, which is due to take place this Tuesday. Known initially
as ‘Ocupa el Congreso’ (Occupy the Congress), the intention of the organisers is that the parliament buildings are to be surrounded until the politicians inside resign. A little further down there is a translation of one of the more widely circulated texts calling for people to engage in the act.
The reaction on the part of the authorities has been predictably authoritarian. If the Partido Popular government, elected to an absolute majority by only a third of the electorate, has introduced cutbacks intended to inaugurate a new era of inequality and impoverishment of a starkness unseen since the dictatorship, it has done so with the assurance, indeed the arrogance, that it can count on a judicial and policing apparatus with the powers of popular repression suited to the purpose. The Government delegate for Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, had already called the event “a disguised coup d’état” back in August.
According to a report in Público, ‘the promoters of the “peaceful” protest action called for Tuesday 25th of September in the area around the Congress of Deputies are facing up to a year in prison. At least ten of the people who have participated in the preparative assemblies for this event, which took place in the Retiro park in Madrid, have recently received judicial summonses in which they are charged with a presumed against the high organs of the nation, as laid out in article 494 of the Penal Code. Last Saturday, four activists who were carrying a banner for the event were also arrested whilst they took part in the Social Summit demonstration.’
According to a report in 20minutos.es, ‘The National Police will start rolling out 28 groups of riot police, totalling 1,400 operatives. This, for example, is four groups and 200 agents more than those who worked on the demonstrations of Saturday 15th. Of those 28 groups, 11 are from Madrid and 17 will come from other departments.
There will be three perimeters surrounding the Congress. The first has been there for some months, since the social protests against the cutbacks began at the beginning of the summer. Now there will be two more, which the Security Forces call the “theory of concentric circles”, three circles which do not touch each other but expand out around the Congress making up a security zone of “up to 500 metres” which will be impossible to overcome, police sources explained to 20 minutos.
The event at the Congress is to surround it, but not to occupy it, say the organisers of the civil disobedience action. The same sources point out that there is concern at the highest level in the police and the Interior Ministry about 25-S. The police have been conducting security operations for some time to monitor the antisistema [literally, ‘anti-system’, a blanket term for people who manifest opposition to the ruling order, and one loaded with enough sympathy for the ruling order that it is surprising it should be used without quotation marks here by 20minutos.es -R] who have been “operating within acts organised by the 15-M” [Of course actual violence in such demonstrations is frequently the work of undercover provocateurs, aimed at getting their colleagues started on the crowd -R]’
Here is the translation of the aforementioned callout text in circulation. Another text can be read at the Occupy Wall Street site.
Democracy has been kidnapped. On 25S we are going to rescue it.
This coming 25th of September we will surround the Congress of Deputies in order to rescue it from a kidnapping that has turned this institution into a superfluous entity. A kidnapping of popular sovereignty implemented by the Troika and executed with the consent and collaboration of the majority of political parties. Parties who have betrayed their electoral programmes, their voters and the citizens in general by breaking promises and contributing to the gradual impoverishment of the population.
We are surrounding the Congress following more than a year of intense mobilisations across all sections of society and after it was made clear that there can be no democracy when the institutions that claim to represent it are guided by interests that are not those of the majority. Because we have nothing to say to a power that has shown itself to be systematically blind, deaf and mute in the face of just and concrete demands for equality and social justice. We are surrounding it to rescue politics from an unsustainable and predatory economic regime: the capitalist system.
We are surrounding the Congress because we want to make a leap forward in the mobilisation of society and to place at its centre the recovery of sovereignty and citizen power, that is, of democracy. We have created numerous processes of struggle, spaces for participation on social networks and in squares, neighbourhoods and workplaces, and we have carried out initiatives that we want to continue developing from below, without shortcuts and step by step. Because we believe that the time for decisions taken by a few has ended; because, faced with those who want to leave us without a future, we have the means and collective intelligence to decide and build the society that we want; because we do not need false intermediaries, but collective resources and tools that actively develop the political participation of all people in common affairs.
We are surrounding the Congress on 25S to say to those who claim to rule us, that no, we shall disobey their unjust impositions, such as that of paying their debt, and that we will defend collective rights: to housing, education, health, employment, democratic participation, income. To begin a process that ensures that those responsible for this crisis no longer go unpunished, so that the pyromaniacs who have provoked our crisis are not rewarded and so that instead they start to be prosecuted.
To rescue Congress is to launch an invitation for other social movements, such as the struggle of public servants in defence of public services, the various ‘wave’ and other struggles for equality and social justice, to express themselves and unite. It means refusing to accept the fear, impotence and disorientation that arise from the reduction of the political to the economic, and its fascist, xenophobic, racist and sexist consequence. And to seek a collective way out.
We invite all those people who want to accompany us in surrounding the Congress on the 25th of September, to say enough! [basta] and to continue on this route to rescue democracy and sovereignty.
We want rights, democracy, justice and freedom for everyone.
We have come this far, we are not afraid.
See you on 25S…and beyond.