The demo was called by the anarchosyndicalist Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) and by the Madrid Syndical Platform, which is comprised of the CGT itself and other anarchosyndicalist organisations such as CNT and Solidaridad Obrera and radical grassroots syndicalist organisations (busdrivers, mintworkers, etc.) The left-wing coalition, Izquierda Unida, also supported the call, but its presence was barely noticeable. There were however, several hundred members of the critical section of the communist trade union CCOO, a few small handfuls of members of extraparliamentary groups and several thousand high school and university students.
The high participation resulted in the first demonstrators arriving at the destination point, Madrid's central Puerta del Sol while the end of the protest still had not started to leave the point of departure, the Plaza de Cibeles. In other words several kilometres of colourful and active protest in nearly its entirety under red and black banners and flags. One of the most repeated slogans was a call for a General Strike, something the CGT has been repeating for several months.
This demonstration, without precedent as regards the participation and presence of the CGT, is interpreted by that organisation as proof that it is not only growing in affiliation and elected delegates, but, most importantly, in militants. At the same time it is clear that the different organisations which oppose the never-ending loss of basic civil and labour rights are unable to organise major struggles on their own. But when putting efforts together where we agree, we are capable of revolutionising society.
Another interpretation is that anarchists can, in specific struggles, work together with parts of the disaffected non-libertarian Left, without being dominated and, much to the contrary, creating a clearly libertarian message.
According to the Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT), this protest shows more than ever that a General Strike can and should be called in order to shake the pillars of capital. In any case, as the anarcho-syndicalist confederation points out, the success or failure of this strike will be the result of the workers themselves, and this is the message that this anarchosyndicalist confederation is proposing to the rest of the Spanish trade union movement.
While impartial observers might feel that the CGT is overly optimistic in its estimations of the possible results of a General Strike, its current day-by-day struggles merit a few words. These include strikes in telephone call centres over Christmas (fifty thousand workers), strikes in the metropolitan areas of the national railway system (87% of workers on strike during the first day of strikes last 3rd December), and strikes in December for the forty thousand temporary workers contracted to carry out the national census held every ten years. At the same time, support for illegal immigrant workers remain one of the key issues in Barcelona, Valencia and other towns.
While these strikes and struggles are encouraging, what is perhaps most worthy of mention here is the fact that the main anarchosyndicalist organisations, CGT, CNT, CNT-AIT and SO, only a short while ago bitter enemies, have gradually, over the last couple of years, started to work together amongst themselves and other syndicalist organisations, forgetting previous differences, accepting current diversity while looking for shared interests and concerns.
Written for Workers Solidarity by the Spanish anarchists Apoyo Mutuo. www.red-libertaria.org firstname.lastname@example.org or post Apdo 51575, 28080 Madrid, Spain. There is also a brief report by an Irish anarchist who was on this demonstration at http://struggle.ws/freeearth/news/madriddemoDEC.html
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This edition is No68 published in Jan 2002