Economic and Social Catastrophe: Spain’s “Indignados”
Wherever you focus in Europe you hear the same cries of indignation
by Pablo Ouziel
June 15, 2011
While “Europe’s slow-motion financial collapse” – as Mother Jones magazine described it in a June 6th article – continues to unravel, Spain, like other European states continues to implement anti-social-neo-liberal policies with strong opposition from the citizenry.
It has been one month since the country’s ‘Indignados’ (Indignant Ones) movement claimed nonviolently sixty city-squares in cities across the country, calling for economic democracy, political justice and peace. Since then, much has happened within Spanish borders, and what is happening there is clearly spreading across Europe, where we have already witnessed social movements making similar demands. We have seen the Bastille in Paris, taken nonviolently by French ‘Indignados’ only to be quickly reclaimed by the country’s police force. We have observed the rise of a parallel movement in Portugal where most city squares have also been camped on by ‘Indignados’, and where only hours before the country’s general elections protestors in Lisbon were attacked and beaten by police. We have witnessed how on that same night, in Athens, Greece, 80,000 protestors congregated in the city’s main square in opposition to the country’s ‘austerity measures’, waving banners in solidarity with the ‘Indignados’ of Spain and of other European country’s.
Wherever you focus in Europe you hear the same cries of indignation. In some countries with more intensity than others, but the cry is becoming louder everywhere, and what seemed like a slow-motion financial collapse, is rapidly becoming an accelerated social catastrophe. Specifically in Spain, despite the political elite presenting a country recovering from the financial collapse, everyday things are getting worse economically, politically, and socially, and protest although nonviolent for the most part, could be on the verge of becoming violent unless political and economic elites begin to make some concessions.
On the economic front, Spain began June with comments from the European Commission about the potential of the country missing its economic growth and budget-deficit targets for the year; its recommendation was further economic reform. Then a report from the ratings agency Moody’s, pointed out that the high Catalan deficit was affecting the solvency of the whole of Spain. A few days later, in the region of Castilla-La Mancha, the incoming administration of the rightwing Popular party (PP), before even taking office, had already proclaimed that the region was “totally bankrupt”. Then, the National Statistics Institute revealed that Spain’s property sales in April had been the lowest since the institute began reporting in 2007. Obviously, this stream of negative news coupled with discussions taking place in Europe regarding a potential debt default by Greece, affected Spain’s bond sales and moved the country one step closer to a bailout, or a default followed by its subsequent debt restructuring.