The discovery that the bombing of Iraq had started was met by outrage, walkouts, road blocks and demonstrations involving up to 50,000 university and school students in Barcelona yesterday (Thursday), according to press reports.
Day X. Spain.
Students lead the way
The A7 motorway to France was blocked in both directions by thousands of students who walked out of the Universitat Autnoma (UAB), following meetings in the various faculties, causing tailbacks of up to 20 kilometres in one direction. Nevertheless, reports say many of the drivers were prepared do put up with it, even peeping their horns in sympathy with the students, who were joined by some of the lecturers and other workers at the campus.
The aim of the students was apparently to walk into the centre of Barcelona, some 15 kilometres. In the end it seems only the most determined did but they were prepared with water, sugar and medical assistance in case anyone wilted!
In Barcelona the UAB students met up with students from the other Barcelona universities blocking roads and staging their own demonstrations. In waves, beginning with students from the Theology Faculty (!) they marched on the Partido Popular (PP) offices to vent their anger at Aznar and his government. Another target was the Delegaci del Govern, the Spanish government offices in the Catalan capital.
These protests were echoed in towns and cities across Catalonia and the rest of Spain. Who knows how many people took part? Hundreds of thousands? A million?
At 7.00 pm the anti-war campaign, "Aturem la guerra" (Stop the War), organised protests in the squares outside council offices. In Barcelona the Plaza Sant Jaume filled with 35,000 people, calling for an end to the bombing, in front of the Generalitat (Catalan Regional Government). They spilled into the side streets when the square filled to overflowing.
Reports say 10,000 assembled in Valencia, 4,000 in Taragona and Girona.
Today (Friday) the protests have continued. I went to a union meeting and at midday the union offices emptied as my union, the Workers Commissions, (CCOO) and the UGT organised a human chain around the Delegaci del Govern. We were joined by several hundred school students who blocked part of the road.
When I got home to Granollers, a town of 50,000, I saw on the news that school students had demonstrated in the centre during the morning. And tomorrow (Saturday) there promises to be another mega demonstration in Barcelona.
Who’s organising all this? Often "Aturem La Guerra" just announce something and people turn up in droves because they see a poster, receive an e-mail or text message or a friend drags them along, showing not only their anger at this crime against the Iraqi people but the desire to do something to stop it.
The student union has called on CCOO and the UGT more than once to organise a 24-hour general strike.
Next Wednesday (26 March) the two big unions are calling a second 15-minute stoppage. While this is a step in the right direction, it is clear that a longer stoppage, properly prepared, with meetings to explain all the issues and where the anti-war movement is going, is required. This would be the way to channel this enormous anger that we see every day on the streets into a movement capable of forcing the Aznar Government to back-track or resign, as many demonstrators are demanding.