Reports from Spain’s Puerta del Sol Square

From the new July-August 2011 issue of News & Letters:

Reports from Spain’s Puerta del Sol Square

Defying laws against public demonstrations, tens of thousands of protestors, self-described “indignados,” occupied Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and gathered in 162 squares in towns and cities across Spain protesting unemployment, government austerity and a political system that serves only the banks and big business. Following are excerpts from an in-person participant-observer sent to us by the editors of the Hindi publication, Faridabad Majdoor Samachar.

Madrid demo of the Indignados
Demonstrators continuing their assemblies and encampments in June against ther Spanish Parliament. They marched on the Parliament discussions of austerity measures, gesturing “No nos representan” (they don’t represent us).

A friend says, “Now it’s not a matter of taking the streets, it’s a matter of creating the square.” She’s pointing out a decisive difference we have to understand.

What do we, in the square, have in common? Not a specific demand, more like sharing of a problem. The problem is representation. We don’t want those who have the least, to pay for the crisis. But this is what is happening. People should rule, representation should be representative. That is why “They call it democracy but it’s not” and “They don’t represent us” are the two hit slogans here. I wander around Sol and see three posters in a row: “Self-management,” “Reform the electoral laws,” and “We don’t want corrupt politicians, we want efficient managers.”

Another friend says: “Its like everyone is in love. Look, what smiles.” From the first day I was impressed with the seriousness, the high degree of maturity and organization throughout the camp. There is abundant food and coffee (much donated by neighbors). Cleaning is done with care and we are continually reminded that “this is not a party.” On Thursday there were a couple of play areas for children with cardboard floors and lots of kids playing and painting. In the groups and the commissions, which are meeting all over the place, there are astonishing levels of listening, as if it were clear to all that it is less important what each one brings with him or her than what we can create together.

“Here a person can live!” says someone near me. The collective effort to take care of the space builds, during a few days, a little habitable world with room for all of us. It is what I read about Tahrir Square a few months ago.

It seems that in the plaza in the center of Sol, where the working-groups operate, money is not accepted. Any collaboration or donation is welcome, but not money.

“The democracy we want is already the organization of the square itself.”

Blessed be those who decided not to budge from Sol after the demonstration. I thought it was planned by those who called for the demonstration, but that was not so. It is one of those incredible gestures that make things happen against all predictions.

–Amador Fernández Savater


It’s true that we’re indignant. But not just that. If it were just indignation that brought us together in the streets and squares of our cities, the movement would have less force. Once the moment of excitement had passed we would have gone home. That is not what is happening. After the demonstrations, groups–some larger, some smaller–have camped in the squares and after being evicted, have returned again and again. This shows a will to be heard which goes far beyond mere indignation, a will which is opening up new means of doing politics on the basis of the idea that “politics” is not only nor principally a profession–the “business” of the so-called political class–but rather that politics is the only way we have to resolve problems collectively.

–Montserrat Galcerán

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One Response to Reports from Spain’s Puerta del Sol Square

  1. Pingback: Photos of Monuments in Puerta del Sol, Madrid | Travel Blog

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