Wednesday, September 29, 2010

La Huelga (The Strike)

It's no secret that the Spanish economy is in a quite deplorable state. A 20% unemployment rate in the country, with some regions experiencing even more severe economic downturn has left the people uneasy, and displeased with the current Spanish government. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodiguez Zapatero is a man who is very much despised by a growing number of Spanish citizens.
The first strike I saw in Spain was two weeks ago, but seemed relatively unorganized, and passed by without much notice. The same cannot be said for the strike that took place, and is still taking place today. The CCOO, or Confederacion Sindical de comisiones obreras is organizing the strike, and has demanded, that all businesses close today to show their discontent with the Spanish government.
I woke up around 11 (school's closed due to the strike) and went about my usual routine, making breakfast and sitting around enjoying the day off.
A commotion began to stir outside, and as I stepped onto my balcony to see, the conflict between the protesters and those not observing the strike was coming to a head right before my eyes.
A Korean family runs a bar and restaurant just across the street from me, and opened their doors as usual this morning. As the group of some 200 plus protesters gathered around their business, chanting and demanding they close, the tension began to rise, and the elderly couple who run bar were visibly flustered. Sadly, they were even more flustered when the crowd began to vandalize their place of business. Chairs were thrown through the windows, and outdoor furniture was strew about into the street.As police stepped in to prevent the conflict from escalating further, and the protesters moved on having apparently accomplished whatever is was they were trying to, the restaurant closed its doors. The elderly woman stood crying,
This scene doesn't seem cohesive with the message of the strike, and the message of resistance by way of peaceful protest CCOO puts out. I was thinking about going out today to watch more of the protest, but have decided firmly that in a small show of defense for the family restaurant, I won't support the protest in any way.
Groups of rowdy, violent men and women who are willing to harm simple, working people like themselves, are more of a hindrance than an aid to resolution in any sort of conflict.
The protest is still escalating, thankfully though, not anywhere near my neighborhood. Sirens and chanting are in the air, and Spain is in a sense paralyzed today. The question remains as to whether or not any good will come of it.

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