Anti-austerity protesters return to Madrid’s Puerta del Sol

Thousands of protesters returned to Madrid’s central square, the Puerta del Sol, Oct. 6, as students, parents and teachers joined in a massive march against education spending cuts by the Spanish capital’s provincial government. “Defend public education, make cuts for bankers,” read the lead banner, while other slogans included “Yes, there is money, but the bankers have it,” “Less vultures and more desks,” and “Education is not a waste, it’s an investment.” Some 85% of the city’s students walked out of class for the march. Media accounts of the march’s size varied widely, with AFP putting it at 4,000, and El País claiming 68,000.

In an alarming development, Madrid rapper Pablo Hasél was arrested by provincial police Oct. 4 on charges of advocating terrorism for a video he produced entitled “Libertad Presos Politícos” (Freedom for Political Prisoners), with lyrics and imagery invoking anarchist street-fighting, the Palestinian intifada, Che Guevara and so on. The particular legal point seems to be the video’s supposed glorification of the October First Anti-fascist Resistance Group (GRAPO), an underground organization that carried out sporadic armed attacks between its emergence in the 1970s and its apparent suppression in recent years. Chiefly anti-NATO in its political orientation, the group is said to have been responsible for dozens of deaths. (Pú, Madrid, Oct. 4; BBC News, June 9, 2006)

The Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s regional police force, are meanwhile continuing sweeps of activists accused of harassing members of the regional parliament in protests over economic conditions in Barcelona on June 15. Eight of the so-called “J-15” protesters have been arrested in Barcelona and nearby Granollers in recent days, with police said to be searching for 22 more. (Pú, Oct. 4)

See our last posts on Spain and the global econo-protests.

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