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Why life is more fun closer to the equator

¡Democracia Real Ya!

On my way to Berlin earlier this week I wrote an update of the previous week’s events in Madrid. First of all, here’s a picture of mine at the Puerta del Sol during the protest on Friday afternoon, May 27th, after the Barcelona police violently attacked protesters there and cleared the Plaza Catalunya. I took roses from my garden and stripped the petals one by one into this central fountain. There has been no violence at Sol, although the police did clear out the protesters at five in the morning (Tuesday May 18th) after the second night they camped out.

The next day was when the grassroots meetings were scheduled all over Madrid and throughout the rest of the country. I went to the neighborhood meeting which was called for Plaza Oporto, at the metro stop about 10 minutes’ walk from my house. The week has been warm, with temperatures approaching 30 degrees (mid-80s). I’d estimate there were at least 200 people and possibly even 300. They had a PA system and a sign language interpreter. I snapped a few photos and left; it’s not clear to me as an immigrant what my role could be.

My housemate stayed the entire time, which is a very good sign, given that he described himself as apolitical when I first met him. A thirty-something who represents a fairly uncommon sector in Spain: the well-read, his disaffection is likely similar to mine with the U.S. Both systems, through byzantine electoral rules have . Spain is not completely non-parliamentarian as the U.S. but does a good job at being non-representative, with the smaller parties gaining seats in parliament that are much lower in proportion to their percentage of the popular vote. Spain also has no wide-spread Green Party, which is pretty clearly what a large part of the twenty- and thirty-somethings would vote if given the choice. His report back to me is that the people were lamenting the absence of immigrant participation and diversity. Interesting; if it hadn’t been for this trip to Berlin, I might have reconsidered whether I could somehow get involved.

El Pais included pictures of six of the plazas including Oporto here.


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