Spain: Supporting the Miners: “Yes, Yes, They Do Represent Us!”

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

Thousands of people took to the streets to show their support for the Spanish miners, and joined them when they arrived in Madrid after walking 400 kilometres from the north of Spain. The protest began at 10pm on Tuesday 10 June, 2012, in La Moncloa, the seat of the government, and finished in Madrid's puerta del Sol plaza around 2am. The coal miners are protesting against the austerity measures and subsidy cuts imposed by Mariano Rajoy's government.

The gathering to welcome the so-called “Black March” took place in an emotional atmosphere charged with solidarity. The citizens gathered there welcomed the miners with applause, words of admiration, sympathetic slogans and with their own anthem, which was sung during the whole march through the centre of the capital. The miners showed their surprise at the scale of the mobilisation, which added to the intensity of what is known in social networks as the #nocheminera (mining night) [es].

The Black March passes through the centre of Madrid. Photo by Ismael Naranjo

Among the most common slogans were “Yes we can!”, “Yes, yes they do represent us!” and “This is our lineup!”, in reference to Spain's recent victory in the UEFA European Football Championship. This much was clear: those supporting the workers feel prouder and identify more with the working class than with politicians or football players.

The coal miners not only lit up the streets with their headlamps: they also represented a light for the protesters in a broader sense. Many other sectors identified with their cause, including anarchists, indignados from the 15-M movement, and people of all ages and from various regions throughout Spain. Because it is a strongly rebellious protest, more so than other protests carried out in Spain, the miners’ struggle has become the heart of the workers’ protest movement and the most radical rejection of the government's cutbacks.

The video below shows protesters expressing their solidarity with the striking miners [es] (video by Juan Luis Sánchez):

Through social networks, many people encouraged the miners to continue fighting against the cutbacks that could lead to the disappearance of their sector. A large number of tweeters stated that they felt proud of the Spanish miners through their messages and the hashtag #yosoyminero (I am a miner). As was the case with previous protests, it was the social networks that spread most information, confronted with what users denounced as #silenciomediático (media silence).

The historic miners’ protest started up again on the morning of Wednesday 11th of July. However, it turned out to be a much more terrible day than the previous one, due to violent confrontations between riot police and protesters. More than 76 people were injured in the conflicts [es] and about ten were arrested.

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.


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