Local neighborhood meetings and the end of Sol

13.06.2011 - Madrid - Ernesto H. De Casas

Let us remember that the 15-M movement came to protest at the door of town halls about the election of new municipal representatives and called for a change to strange political practices since not only is there no participatory democracy, but many of the representatives are involved in many cases of corruption, and nobody has been challenged.

Today the ordered withdrawal from the Plaza del Sol is taking place, but also from Plaza Cataluña in Barcelona, from Seville, from Valencia and other Spanish cities, and marks the end of a long camp of almost 4 weeks which began spontaneously with a proposed demonstration on 15th May against the political and banking system during which thousands of people in more than fifty cities all over Spain went onto the streets. Last night, participants of the most representative camp agreed to dismantle the protest camp. A proposal was debated for several hours whether to postpone it until the 15th and turn it into an itinerant camps in neighborhoods and parks.

Local neighborhood meetings and new mobilisations are ongoing, the next being an international demonstration on 19th June. Some protesters have decided to continue camping in the Plaza del Sol, as individuals, and some 40 or 50 tents remain, or at least try to remain in the plaza. Many people are saying *‘we have not yet achieved what we wanted therefore we fight on…’*

Barcelona is also moving out. It began yesterday to dismantle its camps, but it is not certain whether the Plaza Cataluña is going to have dismantled all the tents by Sunday. Some Catalan demonstrators were resisting leaving the square yesterday.

A reconstruction party is planned with an orderly work plan which includes removing the camps and cleaning up. It is understood that this step is like a transformation *“to continue working, evolving and learning from this great street-school which is what the Sol camp has been and that now continues in the neighborhoods, municipalities and other Spanish cities and around the planet as well; we are part of them”*. According to the words of the organizers, and they gave a timetable of activities which states succinctly: *”Activities: – Collective Awakening – Start gathering up. Operation Patena: clean-up, removal, reconstruction (all day) – Readings of poems, stories and writings on the 15-M (all day, every half hour) in the Sol Library) – Theatrical act “removal” (for the whole camp) – People’s meal – Group dynamic-“* and so the activities continue until 5pm when there is a General Meeting. There will be information on the following issues: *“Short Term Political Solutions – Manifesto of achievements and strengths – all the committees and working groups will report on their situation and plans to continue”*.

There is still a lot to analyse: one issue is how the media has behaved, that it has given inconsistent coverage, that when it has not played down the event, it has debased or exagerated the confrontations, and now towards the end they are giving it wide coverage.

And there is a lot to say regarding general participation, here is an enthusiastic comment:*“…to give an amazing idea which has blown me away is that just the Facebook page **Democraciarealya** (which is not the main page) has now got 410,000 people signed up who have each uploaded their personal photo. There are almost 500,000 people who have signed, have posted their photo and are circulating and passing, putting on and taking off information only on this Facebook portal…)”*.

So things go on but in another way, perhaps by tacitly sharing something. The recently disappeared Semprún said: *“we have to insist, to change things, to change the world, however slightly, marginally…”*

**Towns and Municipals Meeting in Madrid**

While the expected meetings in the neighborhoods have gone as planned, some were brought forward to Friday and others were moved to Sunday.

The meetings are crowded and orderly, and their methodology is very interesting – a very active participant from the central neighbourhood of Lavapiés told me: *“proposals are made, there is a vote and things continue if they are approved by a majority, if not, the rejected proposal has no effect. Then it goes to a general meeting and if there is consensus it continues, the important thing is to achieve consensus, although for myself and many others, the important thing is to participate, to be there”*. The committees provide a lot of role-playing, – they keep telling me- *“I am on the arts committee, and we will also give some workshops on non-violence to understand that it is more than simple pacifism, that you have to start with the violence within yourself, and this continues in the treatment of others.”*

*”Something we very much agree on is in the whole neighbourhood gathering quickly whenever there are evictions. When they are going to throw out a neighbor from her house, for example, if they find all of us residents there, they will not be able to do anything…”* and adds *”also we have to be aware of ‘the wolves’, of everyone who wants to approach us with their own interests, whether they are trade unionists, political parties, the church etc. etc.”*

We have all the necessary information on the website **tomalosbarrios.net**, the neighbourhoods, their reports and actions and a list of them gives an idea of the participation.

*Translated from Spanish by Rhona Desmond*

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