Saturday, February 20, 2010

Barcelona: capital of protest

The act of publicly demonstrating in the streets is alive and well in Catalonia’s biggest city. There is an average of four protest events every day in Barcelona, one of the highest in the world.

Although there were 1,300 officially-noted rallies in 2008, 60% of these were illegal as their organisers did not ask permission from the police.

Freedom to protest in community space is one encouraging indication of the level of democracy in a country.

Unfortunately, some the groups who organise demonstrations are doing so routinely because of a lack of success with their causes. The Black Workers meet on the 11th of every month at Plaza de Sant Jaume in a seemingly forlorn attempt to raise wider understanding of their plight.

A neighbours association in the Vall d'Hebron area of the city have got together every week for months in their campaign to stop injecting rooms being set up there. These efforts included trying to block one of the major roads in Barcelona, the Ronda de Dalt.

We can be thankful though that we live in a part of the world that allows public demonstration,…even if the results of protesting in the open air are not always what is hoped for.


Czarny Kot said...

When I lived in Bilbao it was the same-- demonstrations and protests everyday. Although there are local factors at play in the Basque country I think it's pretty much the same all over Spain and is one of the things I like best about the country.

Unfortunately in Poland shouting and grumbling at the TV is as far as it usually goes and public apathy is even more widespread than in the UK. To be fair to Poland though, they have had their fair share of poltical upheaval in recent history. Perhaps they're just taking a breather.

I also think that in Spain it is partly down to national character as well as politcial involvement. Spaniards like to do things in public and together, whether drinking, eating, strolling or politics.

Brett Hetherington said...

I tend to agree with you about the Spanish national character: (mainly) happiest in a crowd. I think this something they have in common with many Japanese. It is sad that in Poland public apathy is worse than in the UK. Hard to imagine, except maybe in Australia where grumbling at the TV is largely confined to griping about silly advertising. There is no such thing as popular interest in social or political issues in Australia, in my opinion.