May 15 movement packs its bags but plans mass march for June

"We're not leaving, we're expanding," say protestors after 25 days of encampments across the country to demand political reform

Following 25 days of permanent presence in Madrid's Puerta del Sol, activists from the May 15 Movement on Sunday began to dismantle their camp from the doorstep of the capital's regional government headquarters.

Under the slogan "we're not leaving, we're expanding," leaders of the protest distributed t-shirts printed with "May 15 removals" to identify those taking part in the operation, the stated aim of which, coordinators said, was to "leave the square cleaner than we found it."

Not all of the May 15 protestors across Spain were in agreement with the decision to dismantle their camps in city centers, which numbered around 50 at the zenith of the campaign.

While some of the encampments had already been taken down across the country, a hardcore of fewer than 100 protestors in Barcelona's Plaza Catalunya vowed to maintain their nightly vigil, apparently against the wishes of the movement's organizing committee in the Catalan capital, which voted last week to abandon the permanent settlement in favor of concentrated efforts in individual neighborhoods and temporary protests, including a human cordon to be set up outside the regional parliament on Wednesday.

More information
Minister cancels trip over protests
Police beat May 15 protestors at Valencia swearing-in ceremony
Police in Barcelona move to stop "peaceful" budget protest
Demonstrators force Catalan leaders to fly to debate by helicopter

Those who elected to remain in Plaza Catalunya argued that leaving would go against the stated principle of the movement's original goal: a permanent and indefinite presence. The movement's organization committee in Barcelona favors a concentrated campaign in neighborhoods around the city and one-off protests, such as the aforementioned human cordon.

The date soon to replace May 15 as the movement's rallying cry will be June 19, when mass marches are planned across Spain to reiterate the protestors demands for political change.

An assembly in Puerta del Sol finalized the group's platform last month into a four-point manifesto.

These demands were: electoral reform that will guarantee better representation and increased citizen participation in government; clear strategies to fight public corruption by increasing transparency in government; a complete separation of public powers; and the creation of mechanisms that will demand better performance from politicians and more responsibility from the government for its actions ? particularly acute issues after the Socialist administration's mishandling of the economic crisis leaving more than 20 percent of the work force unemployed and a swath of corruption cases in recent years involving top officials from both the Socialist Party and the opposition Popular Party.

The protests were carried out despite the Electoral Committee banning them ahead of regional and local ballots on May 22, when the Popular Party administered a chastening defeat to the Socialists nationwide.

So far, no politician from either end of the spectrum has offered an audience with the protestors.

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS