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Workers and Students Unite!





The Downfall of Culprits



Fernando García Izquierdo




            Not being a worker or a young man I feel reluctant to write, away from where the things are happening, about the fight for a better life being conducted in this country at present by workers and students alike.  Never mind, I must do it, among other things, because I was saying too quickly the other day that no revolution would be likely to lift its head in Spain for at least half a century.  I am beginning to change my mind.

            I met a friend in town this morning with whom I had a long talk standing on a corner in the main street of this historical town full of porticoed ways where one feels protected from the frequent showers that fall in spring in this part of North Castile.

            “Wait till there is no more of the manufactured produce in the supermarkets, you know, the cheap stuff,” he told me. He was responding to some remark I had made about people being dormant in Spain, after so many years of fascist and clerical domination.  “The bastards,” I had said, knowing his interest in politics, “possess all kinds of modern weapons; nobody’ll dare to move any more.”  But his arguments in the end were sound and much more to the point than mine.  He was still some important figure in the labour movement; in the past, when I first met him, he was a tradeunion leader and had taken part, in Valladolid (the capital of this province), in all the strikes that took place there, particularly in the motorcar factory which the French built in this part of Spain in the fifties (now the capitalists have transferred their industry to Rumania.)   

I asked him however to explain what he meant by his last sentence, all that about cheap stuff and supermarkets (he actually had mentioned the trade names of some multinational firms.) My friend had just been doing his shopping, and actually carried his bags.  “Here!” he said. “¡Míralo!”  He showed me some of the things he had purchased, all trademarked products in fact: a pack of yoghurts full of sugar and additives, a couple of cartons of sweet orange and tropical-fruit juice, plastic containers, cheese-potions, two or three hot-dog packets.  “What is going to happen?” he said, “you tell me!”

            Some newspapers are beginning to write about “the inevitable social conflicts ahead”.  Thus, I now have in my hands a national newspaper (dated 9 June 2012) where I read: “Los enfrentamientos entre los mineros y antidisturbios se recrudecieron ayer en Asturias y León”, which in English means that the clashes between the miners and the anti-riot forces had increased, “disturbance” is the euphemism employed to refer to very serious trouble. (A well-trained diabolical police are going to cope with it.)  The trouble, which has now reached an extremely high point in Asturias and León, two mountainous regions near the sea in the north.

            I am now looking at a colour photo, supplied by the newspaper, displaying one of the scenes of the conflict.  In the capital of one of the two provinces, León, I see the railway-line cut, and very many long steel beams laid on the ground perpendicular to the rails; lorry and motorcar tyres have been set aflame everywhere, and everywhere, particularly in the background of the picture, the air is black and pearly-grey with thick  clouds of smoke, and underneath, over the rails, coming up from the burning tyres, one sees the red-and-yellow floating fire; no people or buildings are seen, save the top-corner and roof of one of them, which I presume is the station or some other railway building; also some very tall blue lampposts are visible.  I mention this detail, the colour of the posts because, they seem newly installed and they somehow look odd among so much ruin.

            The North (always strong ground for socialism), the miners, the mentioned two regions, where the working-class has been always so combative (as an aside, I shall mention that twice -1934 and 1937- there, the troops of the infamous General Franco devasted the region, Asturias, killing and wounding the miners and in some villages women and children besides; this is a historical fact, which is not recognised as such in Spain, where recently a judge is being persecuted for having dared to start an action against Caudillo Franco.  The latter was particularly cruel with these regions  because  the “virus” of communism had showed its head among the working classes there.) 

Coming back to the newspaper article, I of course know that a swallow doesn’t make the spring and, as for imposing photographs, we have seen many more imposing ones when the horrors of Vietnam and other wars engaged in by Washington drew so many reporters to the front lines (until Mr. Bush senior ordered the reporters to be stopped from showing the truth in his -and CIA’s- invasion of Irak some twenty years ago.)   But still ‘peut-être c’est le commencement’ here, in Spain now.  The article in any case was a good one.  It is short, but to the point, and the reporter manages to say something of what is happening.  For example, not only the workers this time, but also “tres guardias civiles resultaron heridos.”  In a small village, called Aller, “three civil guards were wounded.”  So, there was conflict, probably a battle.  The brave reporter also tells us that the paramilitaries (“guardias civiles”) enter the small towns and mining villages well armed and protected with helmets and all sorts of armoured-padding, and freely attack the peaceful inhabitants, including women and children.  For the miners’ wives, and their children, have come out and are also active in the struggle, which also involves the cutting of roads and highways, and this has been happening for quite a long period (now three weeks or more, was said on the radio), even if only now the media gives full details about the strike and demonstrations.  Some very brave miners have gone down into the pits (I read in the mentioned article), hundreds of yards underground, at the risk of perishing there, or becoming ill or seriously handicapped for life, for they have sworn not to stop their special action until the capitalists undertake that they will not close the mine.  Can you imagine, risking so much… because they want their jobs to be preserved!  To think that, in this country, every day, at least one of our politicians is discovered (now that the whole country is ruined) to be a scoundrel, to have robbed millions, either from the public revenue, or being involved in some racqueteering or other.  Like the president of the Consejo Constitutional (who is simultaneously head of the Tribunal Supremo, the highest court in the kingdom!)   And to think that this (latest discovered gentleman-robber is only one of the many thousand of state or local authorities who have (recently) been found to be such indecent criminals!  Only along the Mediterranean coast thousands have (now) been found with their hands in the (criminality) pie!

            “Neumáticos ardiendo y espesas nubes de humo negro, bloques de hormigón, troncos or contenedores impidieron el desplazamiento de conductores y viajeros de tren.”  That is to say, between León and Asturias, not ony the railway lines, but the roads were cut by the demonstrators: ‘tyres aflame, concrete blocks, tree-trunks and containers.”  The riot-police (we are told) fought against the miners and their wives, and the journalist goes on to say that the conflict has now been extended to other regions, like Aragón and “otras comarcas mineras.”  And this morning, after I had already started this article, I heard on the wireless that the wives of the miners have also descended into the pits.  Brave working people!

            Likewise there is upheaval in the university world and among the youth in general.  A lady who happens to be a teacher herself, and very much involved in the struggle for justice in this country, was telling my wife and I last Sunday of a conflict which is taking place at another level, and of which there has been scarce coverage in the press and the Spanish media in general.  Her student son had been badly wounded while taking part in a peaceful demonstration in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago.

            “Badly wounded,” she repeated, “but not killed.”  A very strange way of saying things, I thought.  What, is it expected that demonstrators be killed?  No, it isn’t that, she explained.  She wanted to emphasise that today repression does not follow yesterday’s ways: the powers-that-be are not interested in filling the streets with corpses (the reader may remember that in the twenties British soldiers, freely using their weapons fired upon the demonstrators, leaving the streets of Irish cities full of  dead and wounded.)

            So the very-well-paid riot police here are particularly well-trained not to “cause” any death of which the foreign media might talk.  They are armed with such weapons as baseball bats and act so as to inflict horrible body-mangling and invalidating damage, but taking care not to cause any death; for the powers-that-be know that the moment bodies are seen lying in the streets after a demonstration, they will be terribly scared, the cowards, fearing that “the spectre that is flying over Europe” may materialise in our freeworld land.

            Our friend’s son was left on the ground with his mouth shattered, lips cut and bleeding and two rows of teeth thoroughly destroyed.  “Can you imagine,” she said, a gigantic element coming toward you, brandishing his weapon upon his victim, who  receives such tremendous impact on the face?”  And her son left on the ground bleeding, unattended for hours.  And still worse, the victims are labelled as terrorists by the government (like in Franco’s days, the infamous law of “bandidaje y terrorismo”.)  Furthermore, they are not immediately admitted to hospital, and of course no social security of any kind is granted to them.  The wounded student will have to find “private finance” to be cured of so terrible a wound, which may never entirely heal.

            The young man’s girlfriend and fellow-student received, in her turn, the impact of such a tremendous weapon on the side of her body, when already lying down on the ground, and ended with her spleen smashed, and she now knows that there is no hope  of ever repairing the damage.  Knees are bashed by such monsters, and elbows, the right elbow specially (no fear they might bash the left side where your heart is, or your head.)

            When she finished describing so much horror, we all remained silent for a while and I tried to visualise the scene.  A lovely early-spring afternoon in Barcelona, a city that I know well.  A multitude of young women and men full of life, and what is also lovely, full of enthusiasm and desire to live as human beings, in peace with one another;  chanting songs with never the slightest intention of causing any harm to anyone; or doing anything but peacefully declare their views, of peace and generosity towards those that suffer, as is usually the case with the youth of all countries at all times, being massacred and the rascals and the bandits trying to hide all this.  I saw in my mind the young people marching, lifting their banners and ‘pancartas’ in the air, yes! freely and decidedly proclaiming their views, aspirations, desires, hopes… “IMPERIALISMO NO”; “PEACEFUL PEOPLE UNITE”; “PAZ EN LA TIERRA, NO GUERRA”; “ABAJO LAS FINANZAS”; “AN END TO EXPLOITATION”; “DOWN WITH THE CULPRITS”; “DEMOS AYUDA A LOS POBRES DE LA TIERRA”; “HAY QUE PRESERVAR EL PLANETA VIVO”; “LOVE, NOT WAR”…

            And then, all of sudden… diabolically, silently there, at the end of the tree-lined avenue, two rows of robot-like policemen “antidisturbios” appear, as if dropped from some helicopter, some warplane: twenty abreast, corpulent and dressed in those dark-blue uniforms which seem from afar like the “armour” of the knights of past barbaric ages.  All static like statues of dark marble, all with their shiny headwear like spheres, visors down, weapons ready… a most terrorising vision.  The peaceful demonstrators go on, perhaps with the intention of reaching the top of the avenue; but now they do not sing, they are calm and silent, perhaps very afraid (“WE ALL ARE AFRAID!”)  Anyhow, the place is involved in silence, the whole world.  A shout comes from somewhere (a  call?, a sign?, an order?... and the whole mass of about fifty monsters get moving, descending upon the youth of the country, the very brave ones…  brandishing their fatal weapons… 

Next minute the whole earth has become for you a most terrible hell, full of terror, like the one you used to see in some paintings in the christian churches.  A mass of  bodies on the pavement, the roadway, among the plane-trees everywhere.  The devilish antidisturbios have now disappeared.  They are persecuting the frightened, yet brave lovely young women and young men who have tried to escape from such hell  in the side streets and adjoining lanes.

            Oh, my god, my god! Can a sadder vision be imagined, a more retrograde savage conduct, pure-capital acting, crime, the performance of barbarism by paid diabolical beings who still call themselves “homo sapiens”?

            ¿Hasta cuándo, dios santo, hasta cuándo tiene la Humanidad que aguantar tal injusticia, esta maldad, esta locura?” (For how long, gosh, for how long must Humankind withstand so much injustice, so much wickedness,  this madness?)                  




Fernando García Izquierdo


14 June 2012