Spain

As the Spanish government got its €65bn austerity package passed in Parliament, millions of people took to the streets in unprecedented demonstrations against cuts on July 19. The day after, as the Valencian regional government asked for a central government bail out (of 3.5bn euro), the risk premium on Spanish bonds hit a new record, while 10 year bonds were yielding 7.3%. The Spanish economy is on the verge of a full bail out.

Last night over 150,000 people turned out in Madrid to receive the coal miners who have marched for 18 days to cover the 400 km separating their home regions from the Spanish capital. A huge crowd of tens of thousands (the Madrid secretary of CCOO union put the figure at half a million) showed their solidarity with raised fists, revolutionary slogans and songs, and accompanied them from Ciudad Universitaria all the way to the Puerta del Sol square which the indignados have filled often in the last one year of struggles.

After having sworn there was no need for it, finally the Spanish government of Rajoy was forced to ask for European help to bail out the banking system. On Saturday, June 9, the European Union agreed to deliver up to 100 billion euro to help rescue Spanish banks.

May ended in Spain with frantic attempts to prevent the collapse of the banking system, saddled with a massive amount of toxic loans linked to the housing bubble. The government attempted to involve the European Union in the rescue of Bankia, while there were rumours of IMF plans for a bail out of Spain. Meanwhile miners have gone out an all out strike in defence of jobs.

In the last few days Spain has been again in the eye of the storm of the European economic crisis. What is really at stake is the unravelling of the deep crisis of Spanish capitalism with profound social and political consequences and its impact in the rest of European and world economy.

"We will come back onto the streets, we will strike if necessary. This has only been made possible by the unity of action of the UGT and CCOO unions all over Spain. Let no one rob us of the fight! Let no one rob us of our unity!"

The Spanish trade union leaders have finally set a date for a 24-hour general strike against the government’s labour counter-reform for March 29. On Sunday, March 11, 1.5 million people marched again in around 60 cities across the country in militant trade union demonstrations. The government and the right-wing media have reacted hysterically denouncing the strike as “anti-patriotic.”

Hundreds of thousands marched in Spain on February 29 in student and trade union demonstrations against austerity cuts and in protest at brutal police repression against students in Valencia. The trade union leaders, under pressure from a very angry mood form below, are now openly talking about calling a general strike, possibly on March 29.

The results of the Spanish elections on Sunday November 20 represented a massive defeat for the Socialist Party (PSOE) which had introduced austerity measures to make the workers pay for the capitalist crisis, rather than a victory for the right wing Popular Party (PP) which will now have to introduce even more savage austerity cuts in the face of the acute crisis of Spanish capitalism.

Hundreds of thousands of people, certainly well over a million, took to the streets of Spain on October 15 to express, once again, their indignation at the crisis of capitalism and the austerity plans which are being introduced to make working people pay for it.

Surpassing all expectations, hundreds of thousands of people once again took to the streets of cities and towns across Spain on June 19 in the largest demonstrations so far of the movement which started on May 15. What started as an expression of general anger against politicians and bankers, and the attempt to make ordinary working people pay for the economic crisis, has become a mass movement which is becoming more overtly political and orienting to the working class.

It leaps across frontiers, defying all barriers, it laughs at the threats and curses of the ruling class and it sweeps aside the forces of the state. It cannot be halted. The mass protests that are spreading from one country to another have caught all the forces of the old society by surprise. They do not know how to react. If they do nothing, the movement grows, but if they attempt to crush it, it will grow much more rapidly.

First it was Tunis, then Cairo, then Wisconsin, and now Spain. The crisis of capitalism has set in motion a tsunami that is impossible to control. All the representatives of the old order have combined to halt it: politicians and police, judges and trade union bureaucrats, the hired press and the television, priests and “intellectuals”. But the tsunami of revolt rolls on from one country to another, from one continent to another.

In Spain the workers responded massively to the unions’ call of for a general strike on September 29. In addition to the two main trade union confederations, the UGT and CCOO, the strike was supported by many smaller unions: CGT, SOC / SAT (Andalusia), IGC (Galicia), CSI (Asturias), STEs (teachers) and others. Many members of Left parties, especially the Communist Parties and United Left participated actively in many areas of Spain. [The following report has been compiled from reports sent from Spain]