Belgian CWI member, Els Deschoemacker, who took part in the general strike demonstrations in Seville yesterday spoke to Geert Cool: "The demonstrations yesterday were massive. Estimations say there were 200,000 in Seville. In Barcelona it was been between 500,000 and 600,000 and in Madrid there were another 500,000! In the whole country there were 3 million people on the streets. In a lot of cities these were the biggest demonstrations since the fall of the Franco dictatorship in the 1970’s!

"On the streets it is clear there is a very political mood. There are discussions on politics and the coming protests against the EU-summit, in Seville, and the rightwing policies of the Aznar government. Around the whole country people are now going planning to go to Seville. We expect that the demo on Saturday will be huge.

"While the mobilisations are huge, it is remarkable how the organisations in the movement are quite weak. This evening, for example, there is a student demonstration, but when CWI members were campaigning to build for it at the university in Seville on Wednesday almost none of the students knew about the demo.

"Today, we participated in the discussions at the social forum. There is relatively little interest for these debates. The demonstrations tonight (a student demo and an anarchist demo) will probably also will be relatively small. People are mainly looking forward to the demo taking place tomorrow evening."

"Yesterday’s demos were massive. ‘El Pais’ reports the union leaders saying there were 500,000 in Madrid, 400,000 in Barcelona, 150,000 in Vigo, 120,000 in Valencia, 100,000 in Seville, 100,000 in Zaragoza, 80,000 in both Castilla and León. A total of around 1,700,000 marched on the demos. The government figures were laughable, for example, supposedly only 15,000 in Barcelona and 9,300 in Seville. The government also say that only 17% participated in the strike. The union leaders say 84%.

"Officially, Spain’s electricity consumption was down 20.5% yesterday. At lunchtime, the consumption level was equal to the normal level associated with a Saturday or Sunday.

"The unions’ claimed participation rate ranges from a high of 95% in metal/electrical industries and 96% in transport, to a low of 65% in financial services (not the banks where the unions say between up to 88% struck).

"The unions claim the region with the highest percentage of support was Asturias, with 95% to 98% of the workforce out on strike (the government says 30%) and, excluding the Basque country, the lowest were the Canary Islands with 68%. In the Basque country the unions say 53% struck. This was mainly because the Basque unions ELA-STV and LAB called a separate strike the day before the CCOO/UGT strike.

"The Madrid demo of 500,000 was the largest demo since the mid-1970s. PSOE [pro-capitalist ‘socialist party’] leaders participated in the protest. This is the first time since 1982 (before they first formed a government) national PSOE leaders joined a workers’ demo in Madrid.

"CWI members have received a great response to their socialist literature. In Seville alone, 50 people asked for more information about joining the CWI".

Compiled by Niall Mulholland, 21 June 2002

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