STANDFIRST: Images of tens of thousands of Spain’s disaffected youth protesting under the so-called 15-M movement – named after May 15, the days it started – has occupied much space in the national and foreign press. But what exactly are they protesting against?
NORMALLY anyone against the status quo is seen as an anarchist. But things have changed since the financial crisis, the Arab revolts and the Greek debt problems. The Spanish 15-M movement – or Los Indignados as they have become known – is about the plight of an educated young population who cannot find the jobs for which they have been prepared.
They see Politicians and the establishment more concerned about their own interests, who have failed to represent the people, mismanaged the economy and are doing little to stamp out corruption. They are allowing the privileged elite of corporate bosses, banks and bankers to help themselves to the wealth of the country and avoid paying tax while 20 per cent of the work force is unemployed.
The jobless rate amongst Spain’s under 25s is double the national average at more than 40 per cent . Their messages were conveyed in the posters and banners that were hung all over the Plaza del Sol in Madrid.
It is true however, that after the second week of protests there was an influx of young people less interested in politics than using the camp as a kind of Woodstock to hang out. It remains to be seen now the camp has been dismantled whether the movement is strong enough to pursue its demands via meetings or demonstrations.
What is clear is that to date the Spanish Government has done nothing. It has been too busy concerning itself with the mergers of the cajas and giving them bank status to enable them to trade on the stock market.
Of course this meant hiving off the billions of toxic debts into a separate entity, for which the taxpayers remain liable, while the directors of the cajas, responsible for the losses, can now become directors of banks, free of debt, and award themselves even higher salaries, stock options and golden pensions.
But then every Western Government is in the same situation; looking after the financial markets rather than the people.
This is what Los Indignados are about.
By Peter Fieldman
Photo credit: Paul Llop
Peter Fieldman’s novel ‘1066 The Conquest’ is available on Amazon or visit www.1066TheConquest.com