The ‘Spanish Autumn’ Begins now

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | SEPTEMBER 26, 2012

The ‘Spanish autumn’ is here. The same pictures we saw months ago in Greece and Portugal, are now popping up in Madrid. The Spanish people went out by the thousands on Tuesday to tell their government they are angry and that the people cannot take it anymore. Spain is being pushed to the limit and unfortunately it is just the beginning.

The discontent of the Spanish citizens due to the cuts and their distance from the political class flooded the streets of Madrid on Tuesday. Thousands of people, many of which arrived from other regions, came to support activists who gathered outside Congress to show their dissatisfaction about the way the Spanish government is handling the crisis.

Although the organizers insisted until the last moment that the protest was a peaceful one, Spanish police launched themselves against them, which increased the tension between the two groups. According to police records, 26 protesters were detained while 64 others were wounded. A total of 16 people were taken to the hospital due to their serious lesions. Among the injured are 27 police agents.

Riot police tried to disperse the protestors once again at 9:00 pm after they entered the square near Congress.

Many congregants tried to flee by running through streets surrounding the Congress. Police said some violent demonstrators started throwing bottles, batteries and other items. Some participants in the protests in Madrid beat police agents after they found themselves trapped between two police security rings. The police then charged against protesters, which rendered many of them with bloodied heads.

Throughout the evening, attendees attempted demonstration as close as possible to Congress, which is surrounded by 13 small streets. The Delegate, Cristina Cifuentes, insisted that demonstrations were prohibited during Congress sessions.

The main goal of the protest, carried out under the name ‘Surround Congress’ was to express people’s concern about the current economic conditions in Spain and to start a constitutional process, said organizers of the protest. The frustration of many of the protesters was visible.

“I came to show my suffering face to the politicians,” said Mamen GuBas, an unemployed 41-year-old man from Bilbao. Among those attending were outraged but also unemployed students, housewives and elderly people from Andalusia, Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia and Galicia.

Protesters were harassed by police even before they arrived to their last stop in Madrid. The bus they were traveling in was approached by police to identify the occupants. “I ask our representatives to look after the people and protect financial markets,” said Joaquin Sanchez, a priest from Murcia.

More than 1,300 policemen from 30 regions of the country were sent to Madrid to watch over the protesters. Most of them belong to Police Intervention Unit (PIU) an organ of the National Police.

In total there were three security rings around Congress, two of which were closed and bolted before six o’clock. A group of dog handlers plus some cavalry units completed the operation.

Spanish Government still not listening

The government led by Mariano Rajoy not only ignores the calls of the people to stop the handover of Spain to the European bankers, but it seems it actively continues to negotiate the so-called ‘financial rescue’. A report by the Financial Times of London reveals that both the European Central Bank and the European Commission are advising the Spanish government on how to request the rescue.

The ‘Times’ says in an editorial that these negotiations are “politically understandable” and notes that “Madrid is keen to avoid the humiliation involved in having the European bailout conditions being dictated by the bankers.” It seem then that the Rajoy administration has been lying throughout the whole process.

At first, Rajoy had said that the rescue would not be necessary, but his comments have been changing ever since Spanish ‘communities’ began requesting financial aid. Spain will then introduce more painful fiscal and structural reforms as a package developed ‘in house’, when in reality those will be conditions imposed by Brussels in a complete loss of sovereignty.

If those Spanish protesters think they are living in difficult times now, they have seen nothing. The pain to come will be greater once Spain requests and approves the financial rescue package now being discussed between their leaders and the European bankers.

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Britain: A Society In Denial Of The Burning Issues

by Finian Cunningham
Global Research
August 9, 2011

Britain saw its third consecutive night of widespread burning of properties and looting as riot police failed to contain gangs of masked youths marauding several parts of the capital, London.

There were reports too of violence fanning out to other cities across Britain. And some commentators were even suggesting that the British Army might have to be redeployed from Northern Ireland to help restore order. Armoured police vehicles are now patrolling London streets amid calls in the media for the use of water cannons and plastic bullets.

Politicians, police chiefs and the media have reacted to the chaos by labelling it as the result of “mindless criminality” that has seemingly sprung from nowhere. ‘The Rule of the Mob’ declared the rightwing Daily Telegraph. ‘Mob Rule’ is how the more liberal Independent put it.

Home Secretary Theresa May stridently denounced “unacceptable thuggery”. London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Tim Godwin vowed that culprits would be tracked down and brought before the courts. He appealed to Londoners to identify individuals caught on CCTV and amateur video footage.

Nearly 500 arrests have been made so far and police numbers in the capital have been tripled overnight to 16,000, with officers being drawn in from other parts of the country.

Although the arson attacks on commercial and residential premises do have an element of criminal spontaneity by disparate groups of youths, it is simply delusional for Britain’s political leaders, police forces and the media to claim that it is all a matter of law and order.

The burning issues that need to be addressed to explain the outburst of arson, looting and rioting are endemic racism endured by Britain’s black community and, more generally, the deepening poverty that is increasingly racking British society.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his summer holiday in Italy by flying home to London to hold a special “emergency security” meeting with other Cabinet members.

Speaking outside Downing Street today and visibly vexed by the unfolding chaos, Cameron condemned “pure and simple criminality that must be defeated”. The government, he said, stands with “all law-abiding citizens”.

Opposition Labour party leader Ed Milliband and the Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson are also making hasty returns to the capital from abroad to deal with a crisis that seems to be spiralling out of control. The British Parliament is to be recalled from its summer recess later this week so that “all parliamentarians can stand to together” to face down the sudden disorder.

The disturbances – the worst in almost 30 years – began last Saturday in the rundown north London inner-city area of Tottenham. That followed the shooting dead two days earlier of a young black man by police officers.

Mark Duggan was fatally shot by an armed police unit as he sat in his car. Police claimed that the man was threatening to use a gun. However, family and friends of the 29-year-old victim strongly denied that he was armed or involved in any criminal activity. The death is the subject of a police inquiry, but it has emerged that only two shots were fired in the incident, both by police officers.

Sinisterly, BBC news reports on the killing have invariably showed what appeared to be a family photo of Duggan taken before his death in which he is seen holding up his hand up in mock gangster style.

Angered by what they saw as a gratuitous police shooting and lack of immediate answers from authorities, the mixed black and white community in Tottenham held a vigil for the victim on Saturday. With tensions running high in the area, the peaceful rally turned into a riot against police, and several properties, including police cars, were attacked and set alight.

Since then, similar disturbances have now spread to other parts of the capital, including Peckham, Brixton, Hackney, Lewisham and Clapham. A Sony factory was reduced to a charred shell in Enfield in north London. In the outer south London district of Croydon – several miles from Tottenham – there was a huge blaze last night after a large commercial property was torched. Even the affluent, leafy borough of Ealing in west London saw upmarket boutiques and residences attacked and destroyed by fire.

The distraught owner of the razed family business in Croydon struggled to comprehend why his 150-year-old furniture shop had been targeted. Nevertheless his few words of disbelief had a ring of truth that the politicians and media commentators seem oblivious to. “There must be something deeply wrong about the [political] system,” he said.

Police forces are seen to be struggling to contain the upsurge in street violence, with groups of youths appearing to go on the rampage at will, breaking into shop fronts and stealing goods. A real fear among the authorities is the spreading of disorder and violence to other cities, with reports emerging of similar disturbances in the centre of Birmingham in the British midlands, and further north in Nottingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

Inner-city deprived black communities in Britain complain of routine heavy-handed policing that is openly racist. Community leaders tell of aggressive stop-and-search methods by police that target black youths. The community leaders say that racist policing is as bad as it was during the 1980s when riots broke out in 1985 after a black woman, Cynthia Jarrett, died in a police raid on her home in Broadwater Farm, London.

In the latest spate of violence – on a much greater scale than in the 1980s – there is no suggestion that subsequent street disturbances to the initial Tottenham riots are racially motivated. The growing number of areas and youths involved in arson, rioting and looting do not appear to be driven merely out of solidarity for the young black victim of police violence last week, although that may be a factor for some. Many of the disturbances in London and elsewhere seem to be caused by white and black youths together and separately.

But there is one common factor in all of this that the politicians and media are studiously ignoring: the massive poverty, unemployment and social deprivation that are now the lot for so many of Britain’s communities.

Britain’s social decay has been seething over several decades, overseen by Conservative and Labour governments alike. As with other European countries and the United States, the social fabric of Britain has been torn asunder by economic policies that have deliberately widened the gap between rich and poor.

The collapse of manufacturing bases, the spawning of low-paid menial jobs, unemployment and cuts in public services and facilities have all been accompanied by systematic lowering of taxation on the rich elite. Britain’s national debt, as with that of the Europe and the US, can be attributed in large part to decades of pursuing neoliberal policies of prosperity for the rich and austerity for the poor – the burden of which is felt most keenly in inner-city neighbourhoods.

David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Coalition government has greatly magnified this debt burden on the poor with its swingeing austerity cuts since coming to office last year. Ironically, only days before the latest burnings and riots, British government spokesmen were congratulating themselves for “making the right decision” in driving through crippling economic austerity measures that have so far spared the United Kingdom from the overt fiscal woes seen elsewhere in Europe.

But as thousands of Britain’s youths now lash out at symbols of authority/austerity, breaking into shops to loot clothes and other consumer goods that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford, the social eruption may be just a sign of even greater woes to come for the Disunited Kingdom.

Finian Cunningham is a Global Research Correspondent based in Belfast, Ireland.