Saturday, May 21, 2011

People power: Thousands defy Spanish protest ban as demonstrations go on into the night - 21st May 2011

An order by the Spanish government banning protests after midnight last night was held up to ridicule when tens of thousands of demonstrators continued protesting after the curfew supposedly kicked in.

Yesterday was the last day for candidates to campaign for the election for municipal and regional government positions in much of the country. Citing the mandatory end of campaigning, the national election commission banned protests today and tomorrow - voting day.

But as city clocks chimed the beginning of a new day, thousands of demonstrators condemning government spending cuts - stood their ground. Some kept quiet, many with sticky tape over their mouths in a gesture to illustrate they were being gagged by the ban.

The government avoided saying if it would order police to break up the crowds in the early hours of this morning, but at the stroke of midnight officers kept a discreet presence on the edges of the demonstrations.

People are angry over Spain's high unemployment rate and what they see as the national political parties' ineptitude in dealing with a deep economic crisis.

Protesters built a camp in Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square last Sunday, a week ahead of nationwide elections. Since then good-natured, peaceful and colorful gatherings have sprung up and grown around the country under the banner of 'Real Democracy Now'. Read More