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15M goes global

October 17, 2011 – 11:07 am

Demonstrators in Seville earlier this year.

Although I wasn’t around to witness it myself (pressing prior social engagement), the indignados were back on the street again on Saturday – 15 October, following the lead of the original 15M (15 mayo) group who started the famous sit-in in Plaza Mayor in Madrid. It was this action, echoed through Spain during May and June of this year, which kicked off this day of global protest against banks, unemployment and general financial hardship.

An estimated 30,000 people marched from Plaza de España to Metropol Parasol here in Seville on Saturday, and there were also organised events in other cities around Spain, including Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante and Santiago de Compostela. The favourite chants included “El pueblo, unido, jamas sera vencido” (The people, united, will never be defeated) and “Lo llama democracia y no lo es” (They call it democracy, but it isn’t).

Crowds gathered for a rally at the Setas back in May. It was the focus for last Saturday's demonstrations too.

The number of locations worldwide which saw marches and demonstrations is nothing short of staggering: 951 cities in 82 countries. These included many in the US, where the Occupy Wall Street (which if focussing its attention on youth unemployment) is gathering momentum. In addition to New York, people went out onto the streets in Boston, Washington, Seattle, Miami, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles, and also Toronto, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. Further afield, Sydney saw a small group of protestors – like neighbouring countries in Asia, the Australian economy is bearing up well, with the energy and mining industries currently enjoying a boom.

European cities which saw rallies included some of the worst affected by the global economic crisis: Lisbon, Athens and Rome, where sadly violence flared up among the 200,000 who attended; cars and buildings were set on fire, resulting in 70 injuries, three of which were serious. This is something which the movement here in Spain been extremely careful to avoid. In fact, there wasn’t one incident at the Seville march. Northern European countries came out too – people made their voices heard in Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, Berlin, Zurich and London, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange addressed the crowds.

Five months after it started, the pro-democracy, anti-capitalist movement which was born in the Spanish capital, has spread around the world. Whether or not it will achieve any of its aims – such as convincing governments to make the banking system more tightly controlled and more accountable, among other things – remains to be seen. But the support is there, and you can be sure that they will not ignored.

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