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Justice Now! Spain's Indignados to Retake the Streets

Common Dreams staff

Spain's "indignados" will be hitting the streets this weekend in the tens of thousands to mark their one-year anniversary with renewed calls for economic justice.

“We need to take back all the wealth and redistribute it fairly,” Aitor, a member of Real Democracy Now (Democracia Real Ya), which started the 15-M movement, told El País.

Jon Aguirre, a 27-year-old architect, told Agence France-Presse, "When families can no longer help, we will see what happens: what happened in Greece is not far off."

In the face of the government cracking down on protest, Spaniards will be met with thousands of riot police this weekend who will arrest anyone attempting to make encampments.  In addition, the government has already limited the amount of time protests will be allowed in Madrid.

Ter Garcia writes in Waging Nonviolence: “We don’t want May 12 to be a celebration of our anniversary, or a one-day demonstration,” one often hears activists in the Spanish 15M movement saying lately. “We want it to be a new milestone.”

The indignados' protest, starting tomorrow, will culminate on the 15th, the movement's birth in Madrid's Puerta del Sol.

The weekend will also see global protests to call for justice for the 99%. On the May 12 2012 website, which lists scheduled actions across the globe, a call for action reads: "In 2011 we showed another world was possible. Our struggle continues in 2012; together we will rally against corruption, human-rights violations, censorship, police brutality and corporate greed. May 12th, 2012 — everywhere. Join us."

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El País: Demonstrators take to streets to mark 15-M anniversary

More than 80 cities across Spain will hold protests against politicians and bankers, who the 15-M movement blames for the global economic crisis. In Valencia, demonstrators are expected to set off fireworks. Mayor Rita Barberá has said that police will cordon off the main square in front of City Hall to prevent the demonstrators from taking it over, as they did last summer.

“What this lady doesn’t realize is that there are thousands of squares, and not all of them can be cordoned off,” said Matilde, a 15-M activist.

Among the activities planned will be debates and discussions about the direction the movement will take and new strategies to pressure the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to stop his proposed budget cuts in health and education, say the 15-M organizers.

“We need to take back all the wealth and redistribute it fairly,” said Aitor, a member of the Democracy Now platform, from which the 15-M movement was created.

In Europe, the most important demonstrations are expected to take place in Frankfurt, London and Lisbon, while across the Atlantic, the Occupy Wall Street movement has organized a massive demonstration in New York.

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Ter Garcia: Spain’s 15M movement gears up for May 12 and beyond

“We don’t want May 12 to be a celebration of our anniversary, or a one-day demonstration,” one often hears activists in the Spanish 15M movement saying lately. “We want it to be a new milestone.” For months now, many of them have been taking part in local and international meetings to prepare. Through online conference calls using the open-source platform Mumble, organizers from Occupy, 15M and movements all around the world chose May 12 as a day for a global mobilization, leading up to another on May 15.

After its birth with occupations in public squares across Spain last May, 15M has been a model for movements around the world, many of which have reached a critical mass and brought to the fore issues of austerity, wealth inequality and political corruption. Yet, in Spain and elsewhere, governments continue to respond with more budget cuts and increased police repression. Activists hope that this latest round of mobilizations will help turn the tide.

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The Guardian: Spain's indignado protesters face anniversary crackdown

Police will be out in force in Madrid's Puerta del Sol as well in other squares across the country as Mariano Rajoy's government vows to prevent the indignados rebuilding the camps that appeared suddenly last May.

Madrid alone will have up to 2,000 anti-riot police watching the protesters and arresting those who try to pitch camp.

The indignados have announced 96 continuous hours of protests in the Puerta del Sol from Saturday until Tuesday, but the civil governor has set a limit of 10 hours or less a day for demonstrations.

That may mean riot police will be called in the clear the Puerta del Sol every evening – with force potentially being used against the avowedly non-violent movement.

"Camps are illegal and so they will not be allowed to happen," the interior minister, Jorge Fernandéz Díaz, warned.

Madrid's civil governor, Cristina Cifuentes, has complained that she is unable to communicate directly with a movement that remains largely amorphous and leaderless. "Those who want to meet in the Puerta del Sol have the right to do so … but they cannot get in the way of other citizens or break the law," she said.

Protests will also be seen in Barcelona, Seville, Valencia and other major cities — with authorities banning some of the events proposed by the indignados.

The fresh protests come after a year of further austerity and misery in the Spanish economy – with a return to recession and unemployment among the young rising above 50%. But they also come after Spaniards turned to the political right, in the form of Rajoy's People's party, at elections last November.

A fierce austerity programme includes cuts to health and education, while reduced public spending is deepening a crisis that saw Spain's fourth biggest bank, Bankia, nationalised on Wednesday.

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