Can They Do It in Spain?

Erasmo Calzadilla

Protests of the "indignant" in Spain. Photo: montgomery, wikimedia.commons.org

At the beginning of this decade, there appeared in my non-touristic neighborhood a couple of soiled, long-haired guys from Catalonia without a coin in their pockets but with a lot of glimmer in their eyes.

They ate whatever was offered and slept wherever the night caught them.  The closest thing to them here in the Electrico neighborhood was another hairy half-unruly gang of moil (friends), as we say today.

Some of us left together with those foreigners to wander about the country and we all became quite attached.

Until the day I met them, we had as “revolutionaries” people like our parents, who were dogmatic, violent, anchored to their principles, obedient to their superiors, closed to anything new; fanatics over action movies, soap operas and political speeches; sexist and moralist.

However those young Iberian guys had a kind of revolutionary quality that we had never seen: they were as or crazier than us but at the same time very mature politically; they were libertarians and with tremendous experience in real struggles.  For us they were the heralds of something great that was cooking on the other side of the Atlantic.

We haven’t heard anything about those young Spanish guys in years.  The rich seed that we ceremoniously planted never sprouted (we now know how delicate little plants can be), but the one they sowed in our hearts is almost a tree).

Now that the peninsula is in uprising, I watch TV to see if by chance I can recognize them from among the crowds.  Could that be them?  I wish I could be there with them, camping in a plaza under the same tent we used in Pinar del Rio province, and learning how to put partying to good use.

It doesn’t matter, one can learn from a distance, so I’ve taken some notes for when it comes time for us to wake up.  Here they are:

  • There will be many frustrated attempts before something of weight occurs.  Don’t be discouraged.
  • It would be opportune but not necessary to count on the permission of the authorities and legal support.
  • Non-violent peaceful resistance is magnificent as a spiritual force and as a strategy.
  • The work of a prior organization is not indispensable, nor is the setting of a day to mark the beginning.  The spontaneous gathering of thousands of people is a guarantee (not the definitive proof) that it is an authentic social movement and not the work of a few informed individuals dragging the masses behind.
  • Maintain decentralization at all costs.  We already know the damage that leaders can do.
  • It’s not necessary to blast reggaeton or supply vats of beer to attract the undecided.
  • The plaza that is taken over can become a camp where people cook, work, play, and even plant and cultivate for self-consumption.  We could take advantage to begin practicing the world that we want to see.
  • No one has to come to clean the place up.  Those of us who are camped can take care of that ourselves.
  • It’s not necessary to have a previously developed action plan or a list of demands.  These can be born from the working bodies and assemblies on site.
  • Do not exclude anyone for fear that they might complicate things.  If someone from the movement begins to do things that could get complicated, solve it in the least violent manner possible.

A good dose of maturity is necessary to uphold these points.  Will we realize them?  We’ll see in the future.

By the way, I’m curious about one point: I read that they try to prevent having alcoholic drinks in demonstrations, but will there be problems with lighting up a joint?

Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.


One thought on “Can They Do It in Spain?

  • June 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm
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    In the US mass media we are hearing nothing about demonstrations in Spain.

    Erasmo, what you are saying reminds me so much of the mindset in the 1960s, of SDS and the like in the US. It was a frothy time, and many young people declared themselves revolutionaries. Nothing came of those frothy times however, as far as changing the old system for a new one.

    The mindset that was current then was anti-centralization, anti-pre-planning, anti-organization, and on and on. It’s like deja vu all over again. But, good luck.

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