Hello from Barcelona,
this is the weekly newsletter that will inform you about the activities of 15M movement in Barcelona, Catalonia and occasionally the main events in Spain. If you do not wish to receive it anymore, please say so.
1) Rearguard in movement: united to face and handle repression
2) The people agaist Bankia
3) The Vallès speaks out
4) Legal actions against the magazine Cafeambllet for revealing corruption in public health
5) Stop Eurovegas: a popular claim for a sustainable model agaist land speculation
1) REARGUARD IN MOVEMENT: UNITED TO FACE AND HANDLE REPRESSION
Rereguarda en moviment (Catalan for Rearguard in movement) is a citizen platform against repression. Its core idea is that during the last 18 months we have been facing an increasingly authotitarian drift in Spain, fueled by the Spanish and the Catalan governments (see NL #9, 1 ): an economical, social, political and judicial offensive that intends to silence, frighten and reduce people into obedience.
The platform was born to give economic, legal and psychosocial support to all these reprisals against activists. It is a space of convergence for the several groups and collectives who want to give a clear and forceful response to the government’s repression tactics by using solidarity, mutual support, voices, streets and squares.
A report on the “Criminalization of dissidence and situations of police abuses as a response in front of the economical crisis of Catalunya” has been delivered to the “European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment“ . With this report, the platform asks for the police’s responsability and the real intention of the government to be recognized and punished.
Another important aspect to fight repression is the financial support to pay for fines and bails. Rereguarda have a “resistence fund” that collects money by organizing events and passing around money boxes during demos, as “everyone can collaborate against repression”. Soon a crowdfunding campaign will be created to increase this fund (see NL #15, 1 )
From the eviction of a social centre in an occupied bank in Catalonia Square, Barcelona, at the beggining of 2011, to the violent eviction of the same Catalonia Square’ occupation in Barcelona on last year’s May 27th (see NL#15, 5 ), repression has been increasing: dozens of citizens injured on March 29th’s (29M) strike demonstration (see NL #8, 1 ) followed by the infamous Puig’s List (see NL #11, 3) and the continuous detention of people for participating in 29M; the mass identifications of random pacific protesters and the hundreds of fines given to people for participating in demos; people being tortured by the Catalan police, and more.
Several people have been arrested for participating in the strike and March 29th (29M) demo. Among them, Laura -Organisational Secretary at the CGT trade union*- was accused of crimes of public disorder, fire, constraint and offense to the exercise of the fundamental and public rights, according to the Catalan government’s official website . Her crime was burning some fake money in front of the Catalan Stock Exchange building in a simbolic performance. So far she has had to spend 23 days in preventive prison, and now she is free with charges and risks up to 36 years of prison!
On Sunday June 16th 1,500 people marched in Barcelona from the local Home Office Department to St Jaume Square, where the Tow Hall and catalan government are, protesting against repression and demanding freedom for Andreu and absolution for over 100 people arrested since the 29M, who are now fee with charges and can’t exercise their right to expression as they have been forbidden to go to demos. All these activists are being legally kidnapped by the Government.
At least, there’s still a room for hope: a delegation of inspectors from the Council of Europe came yesterday as a surprise visit, to investigate claims and reports of abuse by the Catalan police (Mossos d’Esquadra), the use of rubber bullets, not showing their ID… and the current situation, management and operation of prisons and, specially, Immigrant detention centers.
*CGT, Confederacion General del Trabajo de España (General Confederation of Labour) is a Spanish anarchosyndicalist
- Twitter: @Rereguarda @LauraLlibertat #LauraLlibertat #LlibertatAndreu #AndreuACasaJa
2) THE PEOPLE AGAINST BANKIA
Saturday 16th was a state-wide day of action against Bankia, one of the biggest Spanish banks, that will receive 23 billion euros of public money to recapitalize itself.
In Barcelona, the local neighbourhoods assemblies organized a “popular trial against Bankia”. The protest, with over 1,000 people, started as a potbanging concentration at the headquarters of the Popular Party (of which Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and ex Bankia president Rodrigo Rato are members) and continued as a demonstration to one of Caja Madrid offices. Caja Madrid is the biggest of the seven savings banks that merged in order to create Bankia.
Once in the square opposite this Caja Madrid office, the bank was sealed and the trial started. Speakers of different work groups within the 15M movement and people affected by mortgages, by budget cuts in health care and education, speakers of 15mPaRato, explained the responsibility of the banks (and Bankia in particular) in the creation of this crisis. The verdict was clear: GUILTY!
Around the same time, another demonstration took place in Madrid arriving at the headquarters of Bankia.
On the 14th, the collective 15MpaRato, with people from different assemblies and committees, filed the lawsuit against Rodrigo Rato and other former executives of the bank. The campaign started through the social networks looking for shareholders who wanted to sue the ex-president of Bankia and carried on by collecting the money that they need for the lawsuit. This was done thanks to a crowdfunding (around 19.000 euros were collected in less than 2 days, see NL #17, 1.
- Twitter: Hashtag: #bankiaeslabestia #16j
Videos of the popular trial and demo
3) THE VALLÈS SPEAKS OUT
On May 4th a march begun, from the furthest village of the “Vallès” (a region in Catalonia named after a valley) to Barcelona. It arrived in the city on May 12th, at the beginning of the 12M-15M celebrations. This proposal to march through all the villages of the region was drawn up in the assemblies of the “Coordinadora del Vallés Occidental” (West Vallès Coordinating Committee).
Opinions, thougths and complains of the West Vallès citizens were collected in every village by the marchers. The result is the “Libro de los Pueblos” (the Book of the Villages). On June 13th a group of members of the assembly organized a committee to deliver a digitalized copy of the book for each politician in the Parliament of Catalonia.
In the book you can read how citizens ask for public and quality health care and education, for welfare and decent living; there are also some personal stories of victims of social cuts and dismissals or specific cases of citizens affected by bad local political administration; or even simply expressions of indignation and anger in front of the political and social situation where the financial market commands beyond the local Governments, and where the crisis is considered an accident, and not a clear consequence of wrong actions and the deadly symptom of a failed system.
Most of the pages talk about resistence and organization. The West Vallès Activists do not give up and remind us that “If they will not let us dream, we will not let them sleep“
- Call [CAT]
- Twitter: @CoordVallesOcc @MarxaValles #MarxaVallès
4) LEGAL ACTIONS AGAINST THE MAGAZINE CAFÈAMBLLET FOR REVEALING CORRUPTION IN PUBLIC HEALTH
In the last months there have been many scandals regarding the Catalan Public Health: Unjustified payments, contracts without public tenders and involving politicians, political favours, and hospital directors with salaries out of control have been proved by small magazines and 15M-related platforms. Now citizens are speaking out and reporting to authorities all the corruption in the Health system.
When the Public Health system was transferred to the local government, the Generalitat of Catalonia decided to use the structures that existed already, such as private hospitals and medical centers, through the formula “you do a service, we pay the bill” instead of building a strong network of public health centers. The money that is given to these private institutions is then out of public control. So, as long as they don’t have any budget deficit, no intervention is needed. Nowadays, amidst strong budget cuts, this semi-public system is spending huge quantites of public money on non justified expenses, on reports nobody has ever seen and on overpayed boards of directors and coordinators.
Cafèambllet (literally, White Coffee), a small local magazine of the Girona area, published the video The biggest robbery in Catalonia‘s history ( Video 1 / Video 2 ) denouncing a case of corruption within the Public Health system, through which several persons made millions out of the public money. The video became viral and was the beguinning of more research into the case. On Wednesday June 13th 200 people showed their support to the editors of the Cafèambllet, Dante and Sabina, who have been sued by Josep Maria Via, a Councillor of the president of the Generalitat de Catalonia, Artur Mas. Via allegues they have damaged his honour by involving him in a corruption affair, using the word “robbery” in a video where they talk of him and other politicians, and he asks for a compensation of 20,000 €. Being a small local magazine, having to pay this would mean closing the magazine, as they do not have this money.
The video they are being sued for is based on research Dante and Marta did after feeling curious about certain figures that didn’t seem to be right in their local hospital, two years ago. They started an investigation that became one of the greatest scandals in the Catalan Health system, involving businessmen and several CiU politicians, specially mayors in nearby towns. One of these former mayors,Bagó, is the director of the CSC public consortium (Consorcio de Salut y Social de Catalunya) that manages dozens of health centers in Catalonia. Through CSC he won millions of euros by direct contracts with the public health. But Bagó hasn’t started any legal actions against the magazine: it was Via, who feels insulted because of the use of “robbery” in the video’s title.
During the hearing, Via offered to withdraw the charges if Cafèambllet rectifies and makes a public apology. Dante and Sabina refused: “We are just explaining true facts”, they said while defending the right to free press and the investigation carried out. The trial will take place on September 27th.
Cafèambllet has brought out another big scandal recently: a Catalan regulation and control institution hid a report about the Maresme and La Selva Health Corporation which atributed irregularities in 3 million euro of public money to a few people who are close to Crespo, another polititian for CIU. This report got burried after beeing overlooked in parliament. Cafeambllet has recently found the document thanks to an internal leak, published this information and Crespo threatened to sue them. But Cafeambllet was not alone publishing this affair, one of the major newspapers in Spain, El País, also published the report -but there are no charges against El País as it is a very powerful mass-media.
How is it possible that the journalists investigating such affairs go on trial, while the corruption in the Public Health system is not being investigated, though involving several public figures and polititians close to the party that holds the power?
But some things are changing: The Court of Accounts is opening an investigation on Crespo, and there is a Popular Penal Iniciative that gathers over 20 associations, to denounce and press charges for all the corruption affairs involving Public Health in Catalonia.
- Cafeambllet’s website [CAT]
5) STOP EUROVEGAS: A POPULAR CLAIM FOR A SUSTAINABLE MODEL AGAINST LAND SPECULATION. On June 17th, 3,000 people concentrated in St Jaume square, where Catalonia’s government and Barcelona’s town hall are, to say a strong No to Eurovegas project. The protest was called by the platform Aturem Eurovegas (Stop Eurovegas), which joins several environmental and agricultural associations as well as assemblies from villages and neighbourhoods. The organizers gave artichokes to the participants, as a symbol of the fruits and vegetables that are grown in the expected location of Eurovegas: the biggest agricultural area near Barcelona, the Llobregat’s Delta. But the reasons to refuse this project go further than just agriculture and the environmental damage, as explained in NL #10, 5 .
The manifesto read at the Stop Eurovegas protest is also against the manipulation of information that the government is giving: The increase of job opportunities, an argument the government uses to support this project, is overnumbered and a mirage, as many jobs will be destroyed and it will only report transnational benefits, not to the territory. The initial data of 160,000 jobs has decreased to 15,000 right now. On the other hand, the government says conventions and events will be the main business, but the platform is convinced that the main business will be gaming, with all the problems generated around this business model -criminality, mafia, corruption and drugs- in a special outlaw limbo.
As to the environmental damage, the Llobregat Delta is not only a natural area of great value, it also has one of the greatest water and food supplies in Catalunya. In the climate change era it is increadibly irresponsible to destroy such a supply, as well as building a complex which will have huge needs for water and energy. Finally, building Eurovegas in this spot is dangerous: the food provision for the Barcelona area population will be highly impacted by destroying the Delta and its production.
There is a concentration call in Barcelona for whenever the government announces the final decision on of the location for Eurovegas, wether in Barcelona or Madrid: “Eurovegas, neither here, nor anywhere else”, ended the manifesto.
- Website and manifesto [CAT]
- Manifesto in English (Downloadable Doc file) [EN]
- TWITTER @aturemeurovegas HT #aturemeurovegas