Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do you hear the people sing?

"Do you hear the people sing? Singing the songs of angry men. It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again..."

Unlike Les Miserables, the Basque people have never been slaves. I woke up with that song in my head this morning and it was oddly appropriate.

I've been checking the news but it doesn't seem like the general strike here in the Basque Country and Navarra were too bad. Disruptive yes. Violent. Not really. I read that in Bilbao 3 were injured and 4 arrested. There were also a couple arrests in Vitoria and another town in Bizkaia.

That's actually kind of odd because the strike had the biggest following here in Gipuzkoa but I haven't heard of any incidents here.

I did see stuff, but nothing too bad. First thing I saw when I left this morning were groups of young men, probably around my age or slightly older, yelling in Euskara and throwing the fliers for the strike at buildings that were open. I had a long walk to school and so I saw lots of these groups. Walking past the beach, I saw an entire line of cars carrying CNT members. CNT is a labor union that exists in all of Spain and has anarchist leanings. They were honking their horns and throwing fliers and they had a loud speaker.

I saw minor acts of vandalism. I mean minor. In chalk I saw written on a bank's wall "AQUI TE ROBAN" which means "here they rob you" but again, it was written in chalk... I mean guys would put CNT or LAB or ELA stickers everywhere, especially on ads, banks and buildings that don't observe the strike, but that's not that bad. LAB and ELA are labor unions that favor Basque Nationalism. The three of those were the main organizers of the strike.

As I found out today, labor unions aren't all unified so they compete by calling their own strikes. Um...shouldn't this be a uniting cause rather than a dividing none? The economic crisis is hurting everyone. I mean the situation is pretty bleak for Spain. Just look at yesterday's protests in Neptune Plaza in Madrid. Those got ugly. Weird to think I was there a month ago watching Atletico Madrid's supporters celebrate their Super Copa victory.

The worst I saw was when I was four blocks from the university. I knew something was going down because there were riot police. They were all on the other side of the street so I figured I was ok. I was. The Super Amara in Antiguo was open, despite the general strike. A crowd of about 100+ people had gathered and were yelling. They blocked it off, chanting in Basque until the last customers came out and the supermarket shut down, turned off the lights and brought down the grate.  Can you imagine that ever happening in the US? Super Amara is the major grocery store chain here. It would be like shutting down a Safeway/Savemart/Raley's/insert store name here. And the weirdest thing about it was that the riot police just hung back and watched. The people who were inside shopping were allowed to pass the protestors without incident. The Super Amara employees just got to leave. The protestors moved on, marching down the street and the riot police got in their vans. No big deal. I don't know where any of these people went as they didn't continue to the university as I thought they might.

The Americans were the only ones around. Go figure.

In our Spanish class, outer professor was more than an hour late because of the general strike. Once she did arrive, we just talked about the strike. I basically walked a 3 hour round trip to and front eh university to sit around and talk for six hours. Um why didn't we cancel all the classes again? My art history class, we talked. Lunch, we talked, Spanish we talked. Music history was cancelled and I didn't have work today so I got to a)eat lunch and b) go home early. But still. I learned nothing academic today.

At least I have something to blog about though?

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