When Spanish spring turns violent

Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

Friday, 27 May 2011. Violent clashes between protesters and police — or shall we say unprovoked attacks by the police on the peaceful demonstration — took place in Barcelona, with some 120 people injured and scores arrested. Could this become the last straw that would break the camel´s back?

It is not surprising that this sort of violence occurred in Spain, but it is amazing how it has been avoided so far considering people are utterly fed up and protests are regular. For a self-proclaimed “estado de bienestar” the level of social injustice and inequality is staggering. Nearly half of young people (aged between 16-25) are out of jobs. Small businesses are strangled by banks who no longer issue loans but nevertheless continue paying their bosses multi-million bonuses (with a bit of state support). Large corporations fire people by thousands (shifting them onto social security of the near bankrupt state) — to cut costs, we a re told — but still manage to find resources to reward their top management. The government continues to lie about the true state of affairs, either being in denial or in hopes to push the can further down the road and avoid responsibility and repercussions for just a bit longer. Arrogance and short-sightedness of the so-called “elites” is of epic proportions.

Apparently, people do not want to take it anymore, especially people who may have nothing left to lose — no job, no home, no future — which means any spark can trigger a massive social explosion. The question is: can violence in Barcelona spark a conflict that can potentially bring down not only the Spanish but the EU edifice down? Whatever the future holds, let us hope that any violence could be contained, or better still averted.