Demonstrators take to streets to mark 15-M anniversary

More than 80 cities across Spain will join in the protests

15-M protesters gather in a Barcelona square on Friday.
15-M protesters gather in a Barcelona square on Friday. TEJEDERAS (EL PAÍS)

Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards, along with people in 50 other nations, will take to the streets of their cities from Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the spawning of the 15-M popular protest movement.

Convoys and marches from towns and cities around Madrid began making their way on Friday to the Spanish capital, where demonstrators are expected to converge in the main Puerta del Sol square. The Popular Party (PP) government delegate in the city has ordered police to prevent protestors from setting up camps as they did last year, provoking a wave of complaints by local businesses and nearby residents.

The government isn’t saying what it will do if someone violates that order, but Interior Ministry sources say that they will try to be flexible as possible to prevent confrontations with police like the ones that occurred in 2011.

More than 80 cities across Spain will hold protests against politicians and bankers, who the 15-M movement blames for the global economic crisis. In Valencia, demonstrators are expected to set off fireworks. Mayor Rita Barberá has said that police will cordon off the main square in front of City Hall to prevent the demonstrators from taking it over, as they did last summer.

“What this lady doesn’t realize is that there are thousands of squares, and not all of them can be cordoned off,” said Matilde, a 15-M activist.

Among the activities planned will be debates and discussions about the direction the movement will take and new strategies to pressure the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to stop his proposed budget cuts in health and education, say the 15-M organizers.

“We need to take back all the wealth and redistribute it fairly,” said Aitor, a member of the Democracy Now platform, from which the 15-M movement was created.

In Europe, the most important demonstrations are expected to take place in Frankfurt, London and Lisbon, while across the Atlantic, the Occupy Wall Street movement has organized a massive demonstration in New York.

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