Autumn Vibes

Teachers' protest camp in Mexico. By Tim Johnson

Teachers’ protest camp in Mexico. By Tim Johnson

Madrid, September 11

Dear people,

I still haven’t created my big interactive world map yet, like the one in Dr. Strangelove. But you can imagine it on the wall of Global Revolution HQ. It’s a map with countries lighting up where there’s unrest, turmoil, rebellion or all-out revolution, depending on the colour code.

After a quiet late summer, a few countries are lighting up now. Columbia, Mexico, Romania, Poland, and once again, Turkey.

Let’s start with Turkey. Last Monday there was a demonstration against police violence in Antakya (Antioch), in particular against the assault on a 14-year old kid who had gone out to get bread in Istanbul in June and was hit by a tear gas cannister. He has been in a coma ever since. Bitter irony has it that one protester in Antakya, 22-year old Ahmet Atakan, was killed by a tear gas cannister himself. Reportedly, he was shot from five meters distance, which would amount more or less to a summary execution.

"Police Murders". Via @RedHack_EN

“Police Murders”. Via @RedHack_EN   

The day after, yesterday evening, Turkey was ablaze. In dozens of cities around the country people took the streets. Barricades were built in Istanbul, Ankara, Eskişehir and elsewhere. There were fierce clashes, police employed teargas, toma’s and rubber bullets. People responded with stones, molotovs and chants. Unfortunately I couldn’t participate in the mayhem, but it sure brought back some sweet memories of the summer gone by.

In South America, farmers have paralysed Colombia since last month until last week to protest against American and European agrobusiness dumping their produce at such low prices that they are unable to compete. Five people died in the protest.

In Mexico, there has been an enormous encampment of teachers in front of the cathedral in Mexico City. They are protesting against the Mexican president’s education reform, which would force all teachers to be reevaluated. There are simultaneous protests going on against the proposed sell-out of the national oil company Pemex to foreign investors.

Romania has seen two weeks of protests almost every day against what would become the biggest mining project in Europe at Rosia Montana. In a situation very similar to that of Skouries in Greece, the state plans to sell off mining rights for gold, silver and other valuables to a Canadian company in exchange for only a minimal part of the revenues. The principal reason for people to protest is the project’s tremendous environmental impact, caused not in the least by the use of cyanide.

It’s kind of a déjà-vu for the Romanians. Nineteen hundred years ago the territory was called Dacia and would become the last major conquest of the Roman empire. The Romans left their name and their language, and they took all the gold they could dig up. The empire thrived, but over time the precious metals would be flushed away to the east over the Silk Route in exchange for luxury products from far away China. Once the gold was gone, the economy of the empire collapsed and never recovered.

In Greece, the government doesn’t hesistate to send heavily armoured riot police to the Skouries site to attack demonstrators whenever there’s a protest, but in Romania, after one more big demo last weekend in Bucharest, the government is seriously considering to give in.

Today, in Poland, it was the beginning of the ‘Days of Protest’, organized by trade unions and anarchists, under the motto “Enough of neglecting society.” For more on this, check here.

Finally, in Spain, hundreds of thousands of Catalans formed a human chain all through Catalonia to demonstrate for independence. They were inspired by the ‘Baltic Way’, a human chain of two million people that connected the three Baltic Soviet republics in August 1989.

The immediate objective of the Catalans is to draw international attention to their cause. Because only very few people outside of Spain are aware of the brutal repression and persecution that the Catalan people – and their language and their culture – have to endure at the hand of the Spanish dictatorship. Palestine, Kurdistan, Tibet, Kosovo. All of those unfortunate nations have been mentioned to describe the inhuman suffering of Catalonia. But they all fall short of the tragedy that is taking place right here along the Costa Brava. The cry of the Catalan people cannot be ignored. The time has come for the international community to stand by Catalonia in its longing to be free…

Don’t bomb Syria. Bomb Spain.


3 Comments on “Autumn Vibes”

  1. John Mellars says:

    Your view of Catalonia and Spain is overly dramatic and casts doubt on the accuracy of your other reporting. Catalonia has it’s own president and government. Franco, the dictator, died about 1976. Many Catalan have a desire for independence but it is more emotional than real. Remember, it has had democracy, flawed as it might be, for less than forty years ! Cheers John

    • postvirtual says:

      Hey John,
      First of all, I don’t claim to be accurate, though in most cases I am. Second of all, I am pretty well aware of Spain’s current situation and recent history. I thought it was obvious, maybe even too obvious: I was being sarcastic. I wanted to criticize those people who dare to compare Catalonia – an autonomous democratic nation, based on the rule of law, with its own language and government – to nations that actually are (or have been) brutally repressed and where you would risk to end up arrested, thrown in jail without trial, tortured and eventually killed for trying to mount a protest like this. Or even for flying a flag.
      I don’t like nationalism in any form, though I sympathize with peoples who are truly oppressed, like the Kurds and the Palestinians. I don’t sympathize, at all, with ‘luxury nationalism’ like you find it in Catalonia, in Flanders, in the North of Italy, and in other parts of rich first world nations, where people basically play the national identity card to create borders and to avoid their precious tax euros from flowing away to support the poorer parts of the country. In this case, Andalusia, Wallonia and the South of Italy.
      But beware, I don’t sympathize with ‘countries’ either. I want everybody to be independent on the most local scale, and interconnected globally. The nation-state has had its time.
      Thanks for your reaction, take care.

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