lunedì 10 dicembre 2012

Dalla Grecia alla Spagna: lo sciopero di Madrid visto dall'America

Torniamo a proporre articoli della stampa estera sui movimenti di protesta contro l'austeriy in Europa. In passato abbiamo parlato a lungo di Grecia, oggi raccontiamo qualcosa sulla Spagna e sullo sciopero del 14 Novembre che in Italia ha trovato spazio sui giornali solo grazie agli scontri in centro a Roma. Ci furono scontri anche a Madrid, con la polizia scatenata nella caccia al manifestante, incattivendosi anche sui bambini. Ma più in generale lo sciopero spagnolo dimostra come la Grecia non sia un caso isolato. La Spagna sta affondando con la disoccupazione alle stelle e lo Stato tutto impegnato a difendere le banche degli amici del PPE. I movimenti di protesta si stanno moltiplicando, con le organizzazioni tradizionali come i sindacati che vengono ora affiancati dai network informali, come quelli degli indignados. Un mondo nuovo, che spesso i partiti della sinistra (cosiddetta!) tradizionale non riescono a interpretare. Il motivo è presto detto: sono deecenni, quando non quasi un secolo che in Europa non si assisteva ad un ritorno così violento e così fulmineo della povertà. Precari, studenti, disoccupati non sono la tradizionale classe operaia organizzata da sindacati e dai vari partiti socialdemocratici. Nessuno, al momento, li rappresenta. Ma è proprio attraverso di loro che potrà nascere un futuro migliore per il vecchio continente.
Il seguente articolo di The Nation racconta la giornata campale del 14 Novembre e gli animi, i sentimenti e le divisioni all'interno dei manifestanti.

di Julia Ramirez Blanco


The insistent thrum of the helicopters patrolling overhead began early in the morning. The sound has become familiar in Madrid, a stand-in for the police surveillance and repression that has increased in tandem with the austerity-steeped city's newfound penchant for regular, raucous protests. On this particular morning, though, the government had reason to worry: it was the day of the eighth general strike in Spain’s democratic history, and already the second one under Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose conservative government was barely one year old.
The strike was called by the main trade unions of Spain, along with the Cumbre Social, a summit of some 150 organizations including Amnesty International, Red Cross, Save the Children, and Greenpeace. Non-traditional unions, like the anarchist Confederación General de Trabajadores (General Workers' Federation), as well as members of the 15M social movement, joined forces for the day’s demonstrations.
The organizing demand of the strike did not seek specific benefits, but rather an official referendum asking the Spanish population if it agrees with the measures adopted by Rajoy's governing conservative party, the Partido Popular (PP). Do the Spanish people support projects like the so-called “flexibilization” of working conditions and recent deep cuts in social spending? The strikers wanted to put it to a national vote.
The economic steps taken were never part of Rajoy’s election manifesto, they said, which amounted to “an infringement of the electoral contract that was established between the PP and their voters.”
A straight-forward chant began the day: “They leave us without future/There are culprits/There are solutions.” The slogan was clearly borrowed from the rhetoric of another Spanish activist group, Juventud Sin Futuro [Youth without a future], the powerful student platform which turned the punk idea of having 'No Future' into a galvanizing political statement.
From the outset, Rajoy's government dismissed the whole idea, and the main conservative newspapers in Spain printed their headlines to match: “General Coercion” ran at the top of La Razón, and “Strike Against Spain” decked ABC. Streetlamps in Madrid were turned on in bright sunlight, burning needlessly in a blatant effort to increase electricity consumption for the day given that one of the clearest ways to measure a drop in industrial production—a metric of success for the general strike's work stoppage—is to measure electricity use.
According to the Sindicato de Estudiantes [Students’ Union], the strike had a massive following within several high schools. In the universities, the strike's following was inconsistent, but two of the most important centers – the Autónoma and Complutense universities of Madrid – were almost empty on the day of the strike.
By noon, assessments of the strike were predictably different based on who was doing the assessing. While the unions considered the day a success, the CEOE employers’ association called the turnout “almost null” and the strike “ill-timed and harmful.” The polling agency Metroscopia calculated that 44% of the working population went on strike, 10% of workers wanted to go on strike but could not do so, and 2% intended to go to work but were unable to.

But was 14N a general strike in the traditional sense? Antonio G., a member of Madrid’s creative activism group Gila Grupo de Intervención, says not quite. He commented on the difficulty of organizing a general strike “in a society where people no longer work in a factory-system.” Others linked to the15M movement chimed in, saying that the general strike, as a form of protest, is an old way of fighting and does not fit with the conditions of the modern city. With an unemployment rate of more than 20% and a new labor reform that makes it easier to dismiss workers, those who have a job live with the fear of losing it.
In this context, for many, the demonstrations that took place throughout the day were more important than the actual halting of activity. Traditional forms of protest largely organized by the labor unions – such as the picket lines, marches and the strike itself – took place together with examples of direct action and civil disobedience, linked to the newer tradition of social movements. Some well-known actors shut themselves inside Madrid’s Teatro Español to display their rejection of cuts in culture subsidies. Hundreds of people spent the night inside hospitals, high schools and universities to protest cuts in social spending.
In the morning, a march made its way to various centers of “exploitation and resistance” in Madrid, under the slogan, “From the right to housing to the right for health/If they steal our future, we block the city.”
The first stop was at Acampadabankia, a protest camp in front of the offices of Bankia, a major Spanish bank in Plaza Celenque, where protesters railed against evictions of mortgage defaulters, demanding social rent and payment in kind.
The march continued to the Princesa Hospital, one of Madrid's main public health centers. Princesa has recently been at risk of being turned into a private geriatric hospital, and has become a focal point in the fight against privatization of the healthcare system.
On the way to the hospital, the march made stops at businesses that prevented their workers from joining the strike. Marchers, insisting on the right to protest, tried to force those shops to close in what sometimes were coercive gestures. Journalist and activist Marta G. thinks that this may be a dire failure of the protest effort, because the shopkeepers, who are also enduring a precarious economic climate, bore the brunt of those actions. The strikers, she thinks, may have lost potential allies in the same political fight.
In the evening, disorganization mingled with violence and chaos. The protest group “Coordinadora 25S,” which made the call to surround the parliament building during the protests of September 25, had made the same call on November 14. The police violence and rioting of 25S was very much at the forefront of everyone's collective memory this time around. Cristina Cifuentes, the government delegate for Madrid, moved to forbid demonstrations in the area of the parliament building, which was now heavily guarded with police. Confrontations between the police forces and protesters began shortly after nightfall. A Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and a La Caixa bank office near the area were set on fire. The glass windows of McDonalds were broken, and various groups set rubbish containers alight, to burn in the middle of a main street. A six-foot-tall barricade was placed across the city's Paseo del Prado, a main artery lined with museums and shops. A scene like this had not been lived in Spain’s capital city for many years, and some people see in the scent of smoke a shocking similarity with recent protests in Greece.

Journalist Ana Requena Aguilar, from, thinks that the distance between trade unions and social movements was reduced on the day of the strike. Unions have radicalized their discourse in recent months, and some weeks prior to the strike major unions held a meeting with the group called “Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca,” or “Platform of People Affected by Mortgages.” At the level of their administration, the unions and the indignados of the 15M movement have completely different tactics: the unions conduct dialogue with government institutions, while the indignados mostly operate within tropes of direct action and civil disobedience. But at the level of their organizing, the overlap between the two is steadily growing. Many union-affiliated people who did not particularly identify with the radical rhetoric of their 15M counterparts took part in protests and forms of action that go beyond the discourse of the trade unions they belong to.
This is most strikingly apparent in the existence of groups called “mareas,” or “tides,” which anthropologist Adolfo Estalella sees as a radically new form of street protest. Demarcated by specific colors, each “tide” defends a sector of the endangered welfare state, and show up periodically at large marches, each supporter dressed in the group's representative color.
A sea of healthcare workers dressed in white mobbed the street on 14N, chanting “La sanidad no se vende, se defiende,” or, “healthcare is not to be sold, it is to be defended.” Four days later, on November 18, this white “tide” began a series of marches that coincided with days of strikes at hospitals and health centers. The Asociación de Facultativos Especialistas de Madrid [Madrid Association of Specialist Doctors] has called for an indefinite strike until the regional government halts its privatization plan.
Public education is defended by the green tide, who have adopted a similar slogan: “la educación no se vende, se defiende.” Early in the day, a group of students dressed in green managed to temporarily blockade Madrid’s A-6 motorway.
At Madrid's Universidad Complutense, one of the most prestigious universities in Spain, there is particular interest in this tide: Complutense faces impending government intervention.

Meanwhile, the central government says it is not going to change any of its policies. However, the strikers in Spain have seen small victories: a new law on house evictions keep the most vulnerable families in their homes for two years, and (at least for the time being), the privatization process of Madrid's Princesa Hospital has been put on hold. Many consider these measures to be insufficient. But they are something, and Paris R. is still hopeful.
“It feels like we are living in a historic moment,” he said.
Recently, a group of activists in Barcelona met with Nicholas Mirzoeff, a professor of media culture at NYU. Asking how he could translate for Americans the animating sentiment behind the events of 14N and Spain's recent near-perpetual state of protest, the activists responded: “Tell them we are defending what you could have: public healthcare, public education.”


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Governo Monti: è finita, era ora

E Monti si è dimesso - secondo Bersani con un gesto di responsabilità, anche se onestamente mi sfugge quale fosse l'alternativa.
Non può che essere una buona notizia, perchè una cosa è sicura, l'Italia sta peggio ora di 1 anno fa. Siamo in recessione, e la nostra economia va addirittura peggio di quella spagnola. La disoccupazione è in aumento, i giovani senza lavoro sono 1 su 3, la povertà è in aumento, i consumi in ribasso, gli investimenti stagnanti. Nel frattempo abbiamo abolito l'art.18, scassinato le pensioni creando centinaia di migliaia di esodati, firmato un fiscal compact che ci obbliga a sacrifici e crescita zero per 20 anni, e modificato la nostra Costituzione in maniera oltraggiosa - il liberismo imposto nella nostra carta fondamentale, riducendone gravemente la democraticità.
Colpiti i ceti più deboli, legati mani e piedi alle generazioni future. Senza contare insulti e scherni a lavoratori, studenti, disoccupati. 12 mesi da incubo. Mentre i ricchi e potenti non sono stati toccati - nessuna patrimoniale, nessuna revisione degli scaglioni IRPEF, nessun taglio di stipendi e pensioni d'oro dei dirigenti pubblici.
E si, lo spread è sceso. Ma di questo va dato atto a Mario Draghi, non certo a Monti.
Berlusconi ha tolto la fiducia. L'ha fatto perchè spera di lucrare proprio sulle nefandezze fatte da Monti, cercando di prendere le distanze dall'operato del governo. Un comportamento opportunista, ma non certo irresponsabile. Che la reazione di Monti, Napolitano, Repubblica e Corriere siano tutte all'insegna del rischio che corriamo sui mercati la dice lunga sullo stato della nostra democrazia. Non si può fare politica, sembrano dire, ma semplicemente non disturbare il grande capitale. Questa d'altronde è stata la stella polare dell'azione di governo, tutta all'insegna del "i mercati ci guardano..." "l'Europa ci chiede" (tranne ovviamente quando si trattava di tassare il Vaticano). 
Beh, speriamo che le cose comincino a cambiare. Ci sarà Grillo che cercherà di sparigliare. Ma ci sarà soprattutto una nuova sinistra che pensa liberamente e che vuole andare veramente oltre l'agenda Monti. Cosa che Vendola, nonostante tutte le sue grida, non può garantire. Uno che l'agenda Monti la sposa in pieno, come Renzi, alle primarie l'ha doppiato. E Bersani vuole, per sua stessa ammissione, tenere Monti a bordo, o come Ministro dell'Economia (dici poco!) o Presidente della Repubblica, garante alla Napolitano, cioè garante di mercati e UE, non certo del popolo o della Costituzione. E lo stesso Monti pare ora deciso a scendere in campo, immaginiamo per riorganizzare i centristi, e certo per il PD sarebbe davvero d'accordo dire di no poi all'inciucione, non foss'altro in nome della Santa Alleanza contro B. (con cui va bene governare per un anno, ci mancherebbe, ma adesso che si vota è il Caimano di sempre, quindi la richiesta è sempre quella: turiamoci il naso, e votiamo il men peggio).
Ed allora è giunto il momento, finalmente, di tornare a votare. Destra populista, Monti, Bersani e la responsabilità che sta piegando l'Italia, Grillo e il partito privato. Oppure proviamo a trovare una alternativa. Senza voti utili, senza paura. Senza anti-berlusconismo, senza la spada di Damocle dei mercati sulla testa. Per cambiare l'Europa e non per subirla. Per poter decidere del proprio futuro senza che lo decidano prima altri.

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