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Barcelona EC summit Biggest Anti-Capitalist Demo So Far
ON SATURDAY 16 March, half a million people marched through Barcelona as European Union (EU) leaders met to further 'liberalise' and privatise their economies. This was the biggest anti-capitalist demonstration since the movement began.
Members of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) - which the Socialist Party is affiliated to - and International Socialist Resistance (ISR) give their impressions of the protests.
The Spanish government tried to stop the movement by refusing entrance to demonstrators from France and Belgium. But the demo clearly showed that the bulk of the opposition movement was coming from inside Spain itself."
"The demo is huge. This shows the enormous potential of an opposition movement against right-wing policies and against capitalism. There are few political contingents present. Most people are not walking in organised contingents, it is very spontaneous.
The few political groups making interventions keep this limited to the sidelines without giving an idea of how to bring the movement forward. From this movement a lot could be done to oppose the right-wing government of Aznar (Spanish prime minister and ally of Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi in trying to attack workers' rights). But we need a political instrument for that. The need for a political alternative is a key issue for socialists in Spain."
"The right-wing government of Aznar is leading the campaign for privatising public services. Now they are discussing privatising the energy sector. It won't be a service for the people but organised to maximise profits.
This will have huge negative effects, especially for the poorest layers in society. That's why it's important that so many Spanish youth and workers came out onto the streets to protest."
"The demo was peaceful, at the end there were problems with the police. The police had already been nervous for quite some time and at the end of the demo they attacked the back where there were many anarchists.
We heard that the police used rubber bullets. A Belgian student was slightly wounded by one. We think the Spanish government needed riots as a desperate attempt to portray the movement as marginal or violent.
The orchestrated riots are an attempt to discredit the growing anti-capitalist resistance. But the demo in Barcelona shows that this is a desperate tactic which hasn't succeeded.
Barcelona was a new and important step forward for the anti-capitalist movement."
Diary Of The Demos
Sunday 10 March
A 400,000 strong sea of people march in Barcelona with another 40,000 in Zaragoza to demand the scrapping of the Plan Hidrologico Nacional (PHN). It is two hours before the back of the march can leave the departure point.
There are thousands of banners and placards against the PHN, the prime minister Aznar, his right wing Popular Party government and the Catalan government and its leader Jordi Pujol. The 18 month long government propaganda campaign to win support for their scheme to redirect the river Ebro has failed!
Wednesday 13 March
One hundred students from the Barcelona University, the Polytechnic University of Barcelona and the Autonomous University of Barcelona have launched a two-day sit-in at the Economic Faculty of Barcelona University. They are reflecting the anger of students at the suspension of classes so that the EU summit can go ahead.
Thursday 14 March
More than 100,000 trade unionists march from the Plaza de Urquinaona in Barcelona demanding "A Europe with full employment and social rights". Spanish workers are joined by other workers from France, Italy, Belgium, Britain, Portugal, Slovenia and other countries in a mass march against the policies of the EU.
The demo is led by the general secretaries of CCOO (Jose Maria Fidalgo), UGT (Candido Mendez) and CES (Emilio Cabaglio). Even these weak trade union leaders are being forced to echo the fears of workers. Candido Mendez calls on the EU leaders to stop using market 'liberalisation' as a cover for privatisation and attacks on public services. But workers on this demo and increasingly throughout Europe are realising that these words need to be backed up with effective action.
Saturday 16 March
As EU leaders sit in plush surroundings signing away workers' rights, real power lies in the streets of Barcelona as 500,000 march through the city in protest at globalisation and capitalism.
The organisers were expecting about 50,000 but they came in their tens of thousands singing and dancing their way around the streets of the Catalan capital. There are thousands of banners and placards. One banner says "Globalise Solidarity", expressing the instinctive desire to widen and deepen the anti-capitalist fight.
At the front of the march there is a massive banner saying "Contra la Europa del capital y la Guerra. Otro mundo es possible" (Against capitalism in Europe and war. Another world is possible). Two hours and two kilometres after the front of the march has reached its destination the back hasn't yet started!
Those who thought that the anti-capitalist movement would die away after 11 September have made a serious error. The decision to deepen the 'liberalisation' of the market, taken by the pampered EU leaders in their isolated summit, will only enrage workers and youth even more in the months and years ahead.
In The Socialist 22 March 2002: