I was shocked and dismayed to hear on NPR’s “Marketplace” program on Friday, a reporter from the New York Times, dismiss “riots” in Barcelona as “nothing new”, suggesting that Spain, and perhaps specifically Barcelona, is routinely given to street violence. This disgraceful distortion is fast becoming a hallmark of financial reporting, and needs to be addressed head on by those of us who care about truth and democracy.
For many years, I visited, or lived in, or spent my time writing about Barcelona, from up close. I worked there as an independent journalist, a publisher doing market research, a translator and as a poet trying to get by on what is available to the tourist-artist. I met people who lived their lives in Catalán, in Castellano, in English, in Hungarian, in French, and who held all manner of jobs, almost none of them well-paid.
An effort by the Catalan state police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, to remove protesters from the Plaça Catalunya, by use of force, has ended with at least 125 people reported injured, the demonstrators retaking the square, and the Mossos forced to retreat. Protests have now spread to other parts of the city, as students have reportedly closed la Avinguda Diagonal, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, “in solidarity with the protesters in Plaça Catalunya”.
Closer to the central square, chants have been going out, along with sms, email and social media messages, calling on the people of Barcelona to flood the streets and join the demonstrators at Plaça Catalunya, in their demand for “economic democracy” and an end to all forms of “state oppression”. The violence is thought to be likely to spark renewed passion among adherents to the spreading movement, and new calls during the coming weekend, for permanent occupation of public squares, until reforms are instituted.