The marches arrives at Sol

25.07.2011 - Madrid - Ernesto H. De Casas

From the main streets of Carretas, Mayor, Princesa, Alcalá, Montera…. just after nine, all the walkers converged at Kilometre 0 to demand political, economic and social reforms. The hugs and joy of the moment, along with the tears banished any feeling of tiredness. A speaker kept the whole square informed of each of the arrivals using a megaphone. The meeting had a celebratory vibe.

Like the 15 Mayo, tonight the participants crammed into Sol and many didn’t even manage to get there, as the Access roads were brought to a standstill. Along with the familiar mottos of *”que no, que no, que no nos representan”* (no, no, no, they don’t represent us) or *”El pueblo unido jamás será vencido”* (The people united will never be defeated) others have been added:*”Cueste lo cueste, de Norte a Sur de Este a Oeste, la lucha sigue”* (Whatever it costs, from North to South, East to West, the fight continues) and,*“No es la crisis, es el sistema”* (It’s not the crisis, it’s the system).

The square also has a poster to greet people, saying:*”Bienvenida, dignidad”* (Welcome dignity).

The atmosphere in the crowds has been far more festive than angry. Passers-by greeted them with applause and many of them joined the march. The walkers themselves have encouraged them with shouts of *“You there watching, they are also robbing you”*. In the march towards Sol there was also time to remember the victims of the attacks in Norway. Passing through Atocha station, the demonstrators paused for a minute’s silence.

Following the reception and the shout of *“Welcome, today Sol will once again shine brighter than ever”*, the long-awaited assembly began where the walkers shareded their common experiences throughout the walk through the towns. It was expected to start at 9pm, but there were still crowds arriving at that time and so it was complicated to find somewhere to sit among the hundreds of people congregated in Sol. With a peaceful and festive atmosphere, the demonstrators (Young people, families with children, musicians, cyclists, a group supporting the Syrian people…) attended and bore hundreds of placards with other slogans: *“We were sleeping, we woke up”*,* “A world without walls”*,* “Stop, move”*, *“The bank in the dock”*…

The sea of hands in the air became agitated in Sol. The representatives highlighted the problems that had been found in many of the municipalities. *“We have seen villages without drinking water for three years. And in another the mayor increased his salary by 200%”*, said someone from León. They also alluded to 70 evictions that sympathisers of 15-M had managed to stop in recent weeks, stressing that the work began far before this Movement took place. But as well as being a protest, the meeting had a decidedly festive character. Many people interspersed their speeches with songs or poems.

Screens with live connections to other international squares were set up in the Puerta del Sol, connecting with Amsterdam, Athens, London and Tel Aviv. From Berlin, a group of Spaniards sent their unconditional support for the participants in 15-M and, from Paris, two young people could be heard, with difficulty, singing *”París es Sol”*.

Just after midnight there was complete silence in the square for a minute. The silent shout of the angry people. The arranged timetable ends there and nobody knows how it continues, if they stay or go, someone clarifies: *“The only thing that we know is what the posters say”*, and although it says when they arrive, nobody knows when they will go.

Nor do they know where the travellers will spend the night, probably in the Retiro park or nearby, but they will be there on Sunday morning for the big demonstration.

In the midst of this type of organised chaos which characterises these demonstrations, the Puerta del Sol this morning resembles the picture which was broadcast around the world two and a half months ago. The camp takes shape again with more than 600 marchers who, in the last month, have crossed the whole Peninsula to be in Sol tonight, and it is hoped that tomorrow many more will join, arriving from all over Spain by bus, to participate in the demonstration arranged for half past six.

Like yesterday, today more indignant people arrived. Some by bus and many more after more than 20 days walking. Throughout the afternoon it is expected that the participants who preferred to come by bus will join them. Thus, bus passengers and members of the organisation who arrived to meet them will go to Sol together.

On the walk, Young people, women, elderly people told the press that *“this is because of unemployment, so that they resolve the problema”* or *“so that the politicians pay attention to us and make laws which help us and not the businesses…”*. Moreover, until now everything has passed without incident and people are in good spirits for the demonstration on Sunday, arriving from 6 marches and 30 buses for the demonstration, which finishes in Sol.

*Translated from Spanish by Kirsty Cumming*

Categories: Europe, Politics

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