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Barcelona Mayday Short Report

j indy travelling circus | 03.05.2004 18:09 | May Day 2004 | Social Struggles | World

A few notes on the Mayday parade.

Mayday in Barcelona

The Euromayday parade taking place in Barcelona was a “new” concept and it was a complete success in this sense. The idea of reclaim the 1st of May as the day of the macworkers, overtime office staff, immigrants, and generally those affected by precariousness, instead of more traditional labour, is connected to the Milano Mayday of last year.

The organisers in Barcelona were really pleased with the parade of over 10,000 people, 3000 from the few corp media news. The numbers were high, but most importantly they had achieved to bring in a really diverse grouping, ranging from traditional anarchists, independentist Catalan left, squatters, immigrants and a long etc. Importantly, the main common identity of precariousness. The black bloc issued a call to respect the agreement for non direct confrontation, and it was largely respcted, only a couple of banks and corporatists trade unions were attacked. They had also managed to introduce the ideas in political vocabulary. Although the discussions were not too deep and some disagreements remain it was overall very good. For example, the issue of social rights, the main line in Milano, here became the “precariousness of life”, encompassing the lack of housing, and even the “precariousness of affective life”, besides jobs casualisation.

My personal feeeling is quite positive, the parade was really vibrant and despite some lack of practical on the ground crowd co-ordination, went ahead fine with support from most passers by. At points where things were heating up, the CNT truck started asking people to calm down over the PA.

The only point where people are not too happy was the action in the Police Station. The action of occupying an emblematic disused Copshop, which still had parts functioning and is connected to other buildings by tunnels, was prepared by a smaller group. Many people have since expressed their amazement at that choice, which they say meant a clear violent confrontation with the police. Criticisms have also being raised that the building didnt have much to do with the interesting events of the day: a large creative diverse convergence redefining the Mayday to contemporary terms, which becomes much more powerful than the traditional union march earlier on the day. For many going for a police station was a step back in political sophistication. It must be said that the idea was to stay over-night with maybe a little party, but that the main focus was to have a series of events on the Sunday.

An alternative criticism focuses on the execution rather than the design, as instead of going in when numbers were high, the co-ordinators met after the march to reasses whether or not to go ahead and a minority pushed it, so they did it half-heartedly, without the props needed and with a crowd that didnt really know what was the score. It was described as “militant automatism”. In any case the immediate vicious eviction left a bitter taste that could have been avoided. But we shouldnt let this darken too much what was a positive day. People are dealing with the support for those injured, both legally and financially. Nobody got arrested, showing the political line from the authorities of avoiding conflict with the new governement coming in and a leftish alliance in Catalonian government.

A key side of the demo was the presence of illegal migrants. They had organised in several assemblies, and were leading the parade in an around 1,000 strong bloc. The previous outreach had been fantastic, leaflets were printed in Urdu and Arabic, posters in those languages were visible in most phone shops, and supermarkets of the centre areas inhabiteds by immigrants. People from the Euromayday co-ordination had been going to regular meetings with immigrant organisations, etc. The common link of being in a precarious position because of papers, lack of work rights, brought them in.

We gotta go ... maybe others here can complement thses notes.

j indy travelling circus