14 November: European general strike: neither this Spain nor this Europe of cuts interests us

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By Pilar Fernández-Pazos,

English translation by Paul T. Kavanagh. Click here to read this article in the original Galego (Galician language)

In the year 2003 during his (mis)government, Aznar decided in the Azores, together with his friends Blair, Bush, and Barroso, to involve Spain in the great lie that was the illegal war in Iraq.  98% of Spaniards did not want this war (neither this nor any other) and we took to the streets to cry NO TO WAR in mass crowds.

By Pilar Fernández-Pazos,

English translation by Paul T. Kavanagh. Click here to read this article in the original Galego (Galician language)

In the year 2003 during his (mis)government, Aznar decided in the Azores, together with his friends Blair, Bush, and Barroso, to involve Spain in the great lie that was the illegal war in Iraq.  98% of Spaniards did not want this war (neither this nor any other) and we took to the streets to cry NO TO WAR in mass crowds.

At that time, the Ministry of Defence was headed by one Señor Trillo, today the Spanish ambassador in London. 

Shortly before the elections, a leak to a journalist on Spanish radio revealed that he was preparing a change to existing law and a draft existed so that civilians who showed ourselves as rebels and who do not defend the interests of Spain could be judged by Military Tribunals.  The unforeseen result of the imminent elections put an immediate end to this madness.  

Today, with another (mis)government headed by the most reactionary and interventionist sectors of the Partido Popular, which has been in power for a year, all the cuts to social and civil rights are now on the way.

Cuts in the universality of education, in health, in justice, in the budgets for the fishing, naval, rural, mining sectors… increases in taxes for self-employed workers and small businesses, which come as the banks close their doors to credit because, according to what we are told with a sickening insistence, it’s the fault of the citizens who lived beyond their means for years.  

Today, the citizens of the Spanish State, equally as in 2003, return to the streets unanimously and in large crowds.  This is the second general strike carried out against this government, and in the case of Galicia, the first which the country’s main trade unions called jointly, after years of each going their own way.  

For months the unions and social platforms in Spain, and in other countries in the rest of Europe, have been demanding that their governments offer a referendum in order to decide on the cuts, but there is something about this globalized world in which the word referendum, as well as independence, is a cause for controversy and is denied to us (it will not do to bother big business…)

Students, teachers, doctors, judges, journalists, police, farmers, seamen, public workers, small business people, citizens defrauded by the banks, housewives, pensioners, all took to the street together recalling those wider events.  It’s because we’re tired of being criminalised, we don’t believe this situation is one of crisis, we know that it’s the greatest fraud ever perpetrated in the history of humanity: cutting the public in order to keep benefitting a few private interests.  

Even the judges and lawyers have said enough and have joined the general strike today, and the police.  The government of Rajoy and his henchmen have just reformed the law and at a stroke imposed a charge on free justice for all. Between this, and the reality of the increasingly common terrible evictions (causing 3 suicides which have left all society in a state of shock), patience with them is over.  It’s worth little to us that the King of Spain comes out saying that justice is equal for all, when every day there’s proof of protection for the corrupt – amongst them members of his own family.  

Galiza, just like our Catalan, Basque, Canary Islander, Andalucian, Extremeño brothers and sisters, has much to lose if it does not mobilise, if it does not fight to maintain what remains of its maltreated autonomy.  Because the objective of all these ultra-conservative politicians in Spain, and in the rest of Europe, is to centralise every time more, annihilating the right of peoples to their self-determination, to impede them from dealing with and managing their own assets with the necessity and reality they represent.  

In our case, our formerly rich productive sectors are the countryside and the sea which are every day being impoverished more since our entry into the EU by policies decided in Madrid and Brussels.  And there’s no hope of improvement.  The new generations, which are the future of a country, are being obliged to emigrate en masse because there is no other option, just the same as happened with their grandparents.  

This (re)centralisation of power is especially serious in Spain with historic precendents which the whole world knows. The aim of ending the State of Autonomies which should be the guarantee of respect for the plurality of peoples, turns now into an enemy to combat, because of bad central management and some corrupt autonomous governments.  They do not intend to reform in order to avoid these excesses.  No, that’s not what they intend at all.  They intend to “hispanicise”, as the minister and Opus Dei member Ignacio Wert has already said, and to return to the times of “Una, grande y libre”* in which the people are more defenceless than ever.  

But it was not just in Spain that there was a general strike called today.  Our neighbours in Portugal, our Greek, Italian and French brothers and sisters, also had calls to march.  Apparently the little people are growing against the conservative and capitalist politicians, and everything indicates that the whole of the citizenry in Europe is sending notes of protest to Merkel and Co.

Many of us raise a wry smile when faced with the open processes of independence, the accomplices of the expoliation of the peoples of Europe try to intimidate a population with its membership or non-membership of the EU.  With that well-know Galician irony, any countryman of mine would say to you “The EU? And what is it good for?  It’s worth nothing man!  Before we had to emigrate, and now our grandchildren have to leave.”

I don’t know what the EU will be like in 2014-2015, but if we continue on this path, the people will decide to shuffle the deck for survival, because for many Spaniards and Europeans, all they have left is to fight for their dignity or die of hunger, or disgust.   

Tomorrow, those of us who took part in the strike, those of us who exercised a right, even though a certain head of the Partido Popular wants to make it illegal, will be penalised by the loss of a day’s salary.  It doesn’t matter.  We prefer to lose today and to win tomorrow.

*España una grande y libre “Spain, one, great and free”, was a slogan used by the Francoists during the dictatorship.