1. You led a “march” from Spain to Brussels, where you would like to present certain demands. What are these demands and how do you think “Brussels”, or the European institutions, will be able to meet them ?
The demands are simple and clear : that the crisis is paid for by those who are actually responsible, not the citizens. That the EU is governed for the citizens, not for the banks, and that citizens are able to intervene in the decisions that affect their lives. To make this demand a reality we need a strong, mobilised collective and a radically different political class with the will to govern for the benefit of the people and allow us to participate in the political realm. We all need to put the brakes on and reassess where we are going because if we continue heading in the same direction at this speed we are sure to crash.
2. The heart of your movement lies in condemning the inability of Spanish democracy, which you claim has been taken over by the corrupt political and economic elite, to represent the expectations of the majority of citizens. Condemning the political elite and talking about direct democracy are not new concepts. What is it that brings a new dimension to your movement and how exactly do you intend to bring changes to the Spanish political system ?
The demands are perhaps not new, but what is new is the fact that this is a spontaneous, apolitical movement by citizens, and is not associated with trade unions. The situation is also different, given that at this point in history the world could change, and could do so to the benefit or disadvantage of the public : it’s up to us. The fact that the movement originated online is also new, and marks a turning point in the mobilisation of citizens and in the possibilities of global coordination that worldwide movements can present. In order to get changes made to the Spanish political system, the first thing we did was to write to parliament to demand that citizens be able to participate in the political decisions that affect them. Also, we asked for electoral law to be changed so that it no longer favours the big parties and for the judicial powers to be completely independent. Above all, renewing the political system first means renewing our mentality as a society, and this is what we are basically working on. The changes to politics or to the system will never take place if society is not ready for them. For this reason, we are first dealing with informing, awakening and mobilising. We have proposals, but to implement them it is necessary for the large majority of society to want a change.
DRY protesters in Madrid
3. Would you be in favour of taking a leading role in politics, by supporting political parties or candidates or by participating directly ?
No. This movement was not started so as to support a specific ideology or party. The solution is not a change of government, and as such we are not aiming to influence elections, but to influence people to make informed decisions whether to vote or not and who to vote for. This movement doesn’t look to the left or right : it looks above and below. We do not want to participate as a political party, but as mature and informed citizens with the right to vote directly for decisions to be made.
4. You are also calling for many social rights to be introduced, such as the right to housing, to healthcare, and to work. How can all this be achieved given the context of the austerity measures which Europe, and particularly Spain, are currently facing ?
« no house, no job, no pension »
It can be achieved from the knowledge that this is not a crisis, it is fraud, and that there is money, we’re just not the ones who have control of it. We have to let the banks fall and then nationalise them, political corruption needs to be eradicated once and for all, we need to stop investing thousands of millions in the military, and put an end to speculation and to negotiating debt, and we must guarantee the redistribution of wealth and the basic necessities of the people. There is a lot of wealth in the world that we have all generated between us, but this wealth remains in the hands of a select few. We are returning to the medieval situation where power and wealth were concentrated, with an ignorant but hard-working public where people lived to survive. Iceland has decided to let itself founder in order to subsequently reconstruct itself, rejecting debt repayment deals with banks and putting those responsible for the bankruptcy of the country on trial. And it is achieving its aims. It will take generations, on the other hand, for Greece to emerge from its situation with the bailouts that it is receiving, which are simply being used for private creditors to recuperate their money so that they can continue speculating on personal and national debts. If a minimum tax were imposed on financial transactions, if tax evasion and tax havens were targeted and if we could stop injecting money into the banks, suddenly a lot of money would emerge that could go to the people.
5. The Spanish ’indignados’ movement has inspired the launch of similar initiatives in other European countries which, perhaps with the exception of Greece, haven’t yet had the same impact. Why is this ?
The Spanish crisis has a differentiating factor : the property bubble and political corruption (with respect to northern Europe). This has substantially aggravated the situation and therefore has pushed many more people into action. But the wave of indignation is growing, covering more and more countries, a phenomenon that without doubt will be unstoppable, the level of which will be measurable by 15 May 2012.
6. Do you believe that there are adequate conditions for an ’indignados’ movement on a European level ? Is this what you are aiming for ?
Without a doubt. As we mentioned earlier, the level of indignation changes with each country’s economic situation and unemployment levels, but the movement is growing and becoming increasingly coordinated across Europe. The second hub meeting will soon take place, where movements and collectives from many European countries will meet with the aim of coordinating their actions and demonstrations.
7. How do you see the long term future of your movement ? Are you keen to establish a more solid structure ?
It is difficult to predict the future of this movement, but it can be confirmed without any doubt that DRY and the events of 15 May 2011 have signalled a turning point, and that the spirit of the 15 May 2011 protests will grow and strengthen, whatever form and structure that may take. Our horizontal approach and the absence of visible leaders are precisely what guarantees this. Naturally, it is vital that we set up a framework of debate and coordination, and this is also something on which we are working. DRY currently has its own online tool allowing us to communicate and coordinate ourselves.
8. When your movement began, it was claimed to have been inspired by the popular revolts in the Arab world. How would you judge European action in supporting the Arab spring so far ?
Europe’s stance with respect to the Arab revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East always has an ulterior motive and is therefore hypocritical. Europe is capable of supporting a dictator like Gaddafi or Mubarak when it wants something, only to overthrow them when that interest is no longer there. Furthermore, any military intervention in these countries is reprehensible, because it is not usually carried out with the intention of saving the people but in order to gain control of those countries’ resources. What will happen with Syria and Iran remains to be seen, but rest assured we will not intervene if there is nothing of value to be gained in terms of energy or geo-strategy.
Questions by Lorenzo Juillet Yague