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. Barcelona’s summer activism
2. Two deaths under police custody in a month
3. Can Masdeu: A spot of life that resists trough seasons
4. Waiting for the 25S
1. BARCELONA’S SUMMER ACTIVISM
Although most assemblies and work groups took a rest during August, activism was present in many ways during the whole month. These are the main actions during August:
London has seen a week of intense activism by disabled activists, in the Atos Games (http://bit.ly/OlL3Uf ). In Barcelona we have several groups of disabled activists, the most popular one is known as the Comando Motorizado (Motorized Commando), as they are all users of electric wheelchairs. Most of their members met at Barcelona’s 15M occupation, at the Functional Diversity Commission, and decided to create a squad of wheelchairs that would act as a barrier between riot police and protesters at demos.
This August the Comando Motorizado has carried out a month-long protest called the Resentada (re-sit in), as they allready are sitting on their wheelchairs. On August 1st they entered the Parliament (http://youtu.be/AMc-mQ5Urto ) to hand in a statement saying they demand Catalan politicians to resign, as they are no longer working for the Catalan People’s benefit, and warning they shall sit outside and wait for them to leave. CM and other activists, specially from the 15M Agora group, have stayed every day from August 1st to August 31st in front of the Catalan Parliament, talking to passers-by, organizing activities and adressing politicians as they entered or left the Parliament to question their decissions on specific topics -Health, Education, how would they live with the 400€ pay many Spanish people are dealing with once their unemployment benefit ends… One of the politicians shaouted “Escolta una cosa, collons!” (more or less “Will you listen, damn it?”) and was caught on video, making the news (http://bit.ly/P7tdF2 )
Their final act was handing in 135 individual letters adressed to each of the 135 members of the Catalan Parlament asking them to resign, as they are no longer serving the people.
Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/NfVHfH
Twitter: @occupyya, HT #ComandoMotorizado
Open letter to the Members of Parliament http://bit.ly/QN7nXI [CA]
Call for support http://bit.ly/U0dV3e [CA]
Interview of Comando Motorizado members http://bit.ly/P1tIip [SP]
Article on the news about the Catalan politician who lost his temper http://bit.ly/Mj6CQA [SP]
Comando Motorizado in the Catalan Parliament http://youtu.be/AMc-mQ5Urto [CA, but very visual]
Comando Motorizado explains why they are there, and cases of medical malpractice http://youtu.be/lWwYqfVXpZI [SP]
Closing action: Comando Motorizado hands in 135 individual letters asking each member of Parliament to resign http://youtu.be/RZtvXGsTnKs
Catalan politician losing his temper at CM http://bit.ly/TqE2V8l [CA]
#FREEPUSSYRIOT: RUSSIAN AND CATALAN ACTIVISTS JOIN FORCES
On August 17th 3 members of the Russian feminist punk-rock group Pussy Riot were arrested for performing against Putin in Moscow’s biggest cathedral. This shows clearly the situation of civil rights and freedom in that country, the news crossed the borders and solidarity has been expressed by many collectives around the world and many personalities of the international artistic scenario.
In Barcelona Rereguarda (http://rereguardaenmoviment.org/ – NL 18, 1 http://bit.ly/LB33qx ), “el lokal” (http://www.ellokal.org/ ) and other collectives, joined the Russian activists from Speak Up! (http://russiaspeakup.wordpress.com/about/ ), to organize a demo in front of Sagrada Familia temple.
Despite all the suport showed not just by artists, collectives or activist, but also by organizations defending human rights, the 3 girls have been sentenced to 2 years prison.
Pussy Riot found guilty of hooliganism http://bit.ly/OEAoW4 [EN]
Barcelona solidarity demo: http://bit.ly/SfYbOe
Pussy Riot and Human Rights in Russia: Interview to Russian activists after the action: http://bit.ly/Qi0oFE [EN]
Call in English to join the action, by one of the Russian activists http://bit.ly/OVx7ic [EN, CA]
ACTIVISM DURING THE LOCAL SUMMER FESTIVALS
During August and beginning of September, most neighbourhoods in Barcelona hold their annual festivals (Festa Major) with live music in the streets, special kiosks and terraces to eat and drink, children activities… you name it! It is also usual to have the counter-festival, called Festa Major Alternativa, were members of social movements hold their own concerts & activities and find a momento to inform new citizens about their work and motifs.
The most popular festivities in August are in the districts of Gracia and Sants, and both of them had a strong presence of 15M-related activists: Local Assemblies, Rereguarda en Moviment, Encausats Aturem el Parlament -the support group for the 15M activists who were sent to the High Court last year- and other related groups such as alternative tvs and long-established activist groups prepared huge communal lunches and dinners for a small price, prepare activities, set up information kiosks and makeshift bars… This way non-activist citizens get to know our daily work, get interested and can find first-hand info, and the collectives can earn a bit of money to cover expenses such as printing posters, organization …or paying fines and bail outs!
Festa Major Alternativa de Sants website http://bit.ly/Q3SNuJ and poster http://bit.ly/POsDcB
Rereguarda’s participation in Festes Alternatives de Gràcia http://bit.ly/P8Tr98 and poster http://bit.ly/NfXlxP
Combative rock concert at the Festes Alternatives de Gràcia http://bit.ly/TqHr6j
TEACHERS FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS
The teachers at public schools who are not civil servants (know as interinos) are having the biggest trouble due to budget cuts in education and have been very active these last few months.Their aim is to protest against the Government’s intentions of contracting 3,000 teachers less for this school year through:
Increasing the ratio of students per classroom
Covering the teachers on sick leave during the first 15 days only with teachers already employed, using their hours for preparing classes for that purpose.
Increasing the teaching hours per civil servant teachers.
Besides this, all these teachers at public schools who are not civil servants will be only payed for the teaching hours, so they will get no income for preparing their classes, correcting the students’ work and exams or for attending parents. This is seen as an unnecessary increase in the precariety and unstability of their position, when working the same as their civil servant colleagues.
On August 29th they performed an action in front of the Education department headquarters in Barcelona: They performed a Bingo, as a parody of how the vacancies are filled.They also asked the Concillior for education, Irene Rigau, to resign. On August 31st there was an assembly in front of the Education Department in which 3 days of strike were decided (September 12th, 13th and 17th), and they have started to work on a permanent strike two days a week till these mesures are withdrawn.
Article in Acampadabcn’s website http://bit.ly/T8g38E [SP,CA]
Teachers call for a strike against budget cuts http://bit.ly/N8KdKV [SP]
The school term will start with several days of strikes due to budget cuts http://bit.ly/Qg9nak [CA]
Assembly of substitute teachers (moodle): http://bit.ly/Qga2bM [CAT]
Twitter: @docentsprec HT: #29a, #31a, #bingorigau
2. TWO DEATHS UNDER POLICE CUSTODY IN A MONTH
So far, 13 deaths have been documented in Catalonia during 2012 under the police custody -this is, in police stations, prison or Immigrant Internment Centers. This summer, and within only one month, there have been two strange deaths of people under police custody: Juan Pablo Torroija committed suicide on July 14th in a police station jail in Girona, and Wandi Ferreira allegedly committed suicide with his shoe laces on August 16th in Quatre camins Prison, near Barcelona.
Juan Pablo Torroija was a 41 years old, born in Argentina and living in Girona. His case was specially strange: It wasn’t known until July 28th, as the police didn’t contact his family nor the Argentinian embassy. Yet Girona’s mayor phoned each political group in town to tell them the news of a suicide in the police station was about to turn up in the papers.
The story was just starting: the post mortem talked of a 76 year old man, when Torroija was 41 and had a scar, tatoos and piercings that didn’t appear in the report. When Torroija’s family and the Argentinian press started asking questions, the judge decided to close the case immediately without further investigations, though the police had taken a fortnight to tell them the sad news. Rereguarda en Moviment (http://rereguardaenmoviment.org/ – NL 18, 1 http://bit.ly/LB33qx ) was contacted and decided not only to offer legal and psychological help to his family and friends if necessary, but to try and find out what had happened with Torroija. During a few weeks members of Rereguarda interviewed Torroija’s friends and lawyer, spoke with his famil, spoke with activists in Girona who said the police officer who was there during the death is famous for tortures and violence… though he has always been found innocent if judged. Rereguarda finally summed up the information gathered on this case, among which is the 19 minutes the police took to attend Torroija after he hung himself in the cell. This report has been published online as a manifesto and turned into a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jBSw9GQdtQ ) Torroija’s family and friends, together with lawyers and Human Rights activists, are pressing to get the case reopened to solve some of these mysteries.
Wandi Ferreira was 21, born in the Dominic Republic and living in Santa Coloma. He was arrested on August 14th with a friend of his and was beaten by plainclothes policemen, but as he was sent to tprison he called his sister and left a message saying he was ok and asking her to bring him some clothes. At 5 am he was found dead, allegedly due to a suicide with his own shoe laces… which is odd, as every single time a person goes to jail in a police station or in jail, shoe laces are removed.
Wandi’s family wants an investigation on this case, as not only the laces are odd, but the whole way the police dealt with Wandy’s death: His sister phoned at 7am, two hours after he had been found dead, but she wasn’t informed of his death, and when they finally did they were derisive and unsympathetic with his family. Ferreira’s family and the dominican community say this case is just another example of the racism within the police forces, as proved by the 110 reports of police abuse to immigrants in 2011.
JUAN PABLO TORROIJA
Juan Pablo Torroija affair website http://casojuanpablotorroija.wordpress.com/ [SP]
Manifesto on this case by Rereguarda : http://bit.ly/TwIgZX [SP]
Links to articles in the newspapers on this case http://bit.ly/RTNOJJ [SP]
Death in Girona, summary of the case by Rereguarda http://youtu.be/9jBSw9GQdtQ [CA, SP subtitles]
Interview with Torroija’s family lawyer http://youtu.be/GIa4dcoIo8E [CA, SP subtitles]
Interview with a politician in Girona who explains the strange phone call he received by the mayor http://youtu.be/ykshvaOhvpA [CA, SP subtitles]
Wandi Ferreira, a death in Quatre Camins http://youtu.be/coTmw_OIYCw [SP]
3. CAN MASDEU: A SPOT OF LIFE THAT RESISTS TROUGH SEASONS
Can Masdeu is a squatted social centre, residence and community garden in the Collserola Park on the outskirts of Barcelona. A former leper hospital which had been abandoned for some 53 years before its eviction, the squat became famous in 2002, when squatters using lock-ons and on tripods nonviolently resisted the eviction. During a three-day standoff, police were unable to remove the squatters, resulting in the case returning to the courts. After three years, the case was won by the owners, but no eviction notice has since been issued.
The grounds governed by the squat include almost a hectare of land used as gardens, an abandoned nunnery and hospital facility and about 15 hectares of mostly hilly forests. The building spans four floors and is draped over the side of a hill. It includes 24 different rooms of various sizes including a large hall.
Can Masdeu is located up the hill from the Canyelles L3 Metro station in Barcelona. There is a sign for it before the 0,5 km walk up a dirt road to the site.
For most Sundays of the year there are public workshops offered in the social centre, the PIC, or Punt d’Interracció de Collserola. These workshops and presentations cover a variety of topics including:
Permaculture and organic farming
Independent film presentations
Music, dancing and cultural expression
Walking tours of the community grounds and building
A vegetarian meal is served on weekends, for which a donation is requested. The meal typically features food which has been harvested from the communities gardens or traded with other local farms.
The Social Centre and the rurbar, a cafe serving local and organic meals and drinks, is open most Sundays from noon until evening. Activities are listed on the website and in the Infousurpa newsletter.
A substantial renovation was necessary to make the space livable. Squatters cleared out rooms and repaired them and moved on to the adjacent space for a period of over 3 years. Residents enjoy a low energy, low impact lifestyle with few low power electrical fixtures and a couple of fireplaces for the sprawling complex.
The community runs a bike shop and repair clinic, bakes bread for itself and local customers, provides space to the local high school for meetings and performances, and it also hosts meetings of progressive and resistance groups.
CanMasdeu: Rise of the rurbano revolution http://bit.ly/OHC0eP [EN]
4. WAITING FOR THE 25S
Next Sunday September 9th will have place a meeting in Plaça Catalunya to talk about the national action called for on September 25th (known as #25S ): “Occupy the congress”.
The idea is to sorround the congress of deputies in Madrid until the Government resigns, because of their lies to the people, the budget and social cuts and the inconstitucionality of many of their acts. A lot of people are organizing to go to Madrid that day from every corner of Spain.
At the very beginning it started off as a Facebook call through a public event. Over the months has grown until finally creating the 25S-coordination group in oder to develop the action and coordinate strenghts, open to all the assemblies, collectives, plataforms and people who would like to collaborate.
A representive of Barcelona’s activists went last week to Madrid to talk about their experience with the “Aturem el Parlament” (Stop the Parlament), when – on June 15th 2011- they tried to block the politicians’ entrance to the Catalan Parlamient on the day they were going to vote the new austerity budget.
The Government seems to be worried by this action: they already declare it antidemocratic and similar to a coup d’etat, and announcing blacklists of activists who are being watched. Even so, the intention of the 25S demo is pacific and inclusive, aiming at the start of a new constituent process, following Iceland’s path: judging politicians and bankers, writing a new constitution.
25S is near. A lot of hope has been put into it by thousands of people.
Coordinadora25S website http://coordinadora25s.wordpress.com/ [SP]
Twitter: @coordinadora25S @ocupaelcongreso @rodeaelcongreso @cuentaatras25S
Video of “Aturem el parlament” action, 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFAa5aZra18
Article on the black list of activists: http://bit.ly/PBVvTU [SP]