Rights, Democracy and PEOPLE.

You want to know what’s going on? READ THIS

Today I’d like to talk about something different…

I’ve always been a melancholic person thinking old times were better… many years ago our parents and grandparents went out in the street fighting for the rights we enjoy now. They suffered a dictatorship and fought against. They were young and felt they had the obligation to take the streets and claim their liberty.

I always felt that feeling was lost, that people now were too comfortable and so they wouldn’t fight for a better world. I always felt really annoyed by young people who seemed not to care about the situation and just follow the crowd without really caring about the society we are creating. It made me feel really sad…

Now, Spain has got to an intolerable situation. Budget cuts in public health and education, 45% of unemployment in young people (people finish their degrees and they can’t find a job… not even serving coffee… which means we can’t leave our parents’ houses). A too high rate of unemployment. We don’t have unemployment benefit any more. People of my generation (20′s – 30′s) will retire… well… I don’t even know if we’ll be able to retire when we are 70 or 75… etcetera etcetera…. I’m not even going to get too much into this, many others can explain this far better than me.

Last Sunday, thousands and thousands of people demonstrated against this situation in many cities of Spain. They showed we don’t agree with the kind of “democracy” that rules our country. It was beautiful to see people from all ages and backgrounds asking for a real democracy… It was beautiful to see them all saying “we want a change”… It’s not a political movement, just normal people going out claiming for a fair situation, for real democracy. It’s very sad to see that the national media didn’t talk about this when it happened. They just said it was about “a few young people demonstrating” (Sunday afternoon, they were 50.000 people in Madrid, more than 15.000 in Barcelona) They laugh at us saying “they are bored, young people against the system who don’t have real problems” (literally taken from our public national radio). While all of us, literally, ALL types of people, young and old, are gathering in peace asking for a change. Plaza del Sol in Madrid is the main concentration, they were 80.000 people last night. Barcelona’s concentration hosts thousands and thousands of people everyday and it becomes really crazy (and beautiful) at night. Last night we spent hours and hours making noise for a change, to be heard. Many other cities in Spain host these meetings and, now, even abroad. London, Florence, Montpellier, Budapest, Lisbon, New York, Rome, Vienna, Paris…

The most amazing thing is that all this started through twitter, #15M became a trending topic very fast and so it is now #spanishrevolution. People is moving, talking about this and encouraging friends, family and neighbors to move. Facebook and twitter are the main tools of communication between us. People talk, debate, wonder what the best solution is, ask for a dialogue, help with their own sources… WE are fighting for a change. It’s beautiful and it makes me feel really proud of them… it makes me feel proud of being the kind of Spanish person they are (yes… there’re different kinds…)

This has nothing to do with photography but I felt like talking about this. I wanted to share it with you, hoping you had heard something in the news or read a line somewhere about this. If not, now you know… we are not a few, we are not “just bored”… we are claiming our rights. Feel free to join us, no matter where you are.

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About Emma Espejo

Graduated from English Philology in the University of Barcelona, I wanted to study a phd on Literature but ended dedicating my life to Photography. Full time teacher of English, and full time photographer (a passion can't be neglected). Working on my photography and making other people happy with my photographs makes me happy, as well as a good conversation, reading a good book and watching a good tv series. I'm a reader, dreamer, lover, photographer, writer, thinker... a little bit of everything.
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9 Responses to Rights, Democracy and PEOPLE.

  1. Right Thinking says:

    When I lived in Barcelona back in 1991, I remember unemployment being around 13%, the lady who rented a room for me still had her 30 year old son at home, and everything was expensive. A can of Coke out of the vending machine cost 100 pesetas back then which was around a dollar. I could have bought the same Coke for about 50 pesetas back in Chicago. The one commodity that shocked me was the price of gas. It was about 4 times more expensive than what one would pay in the United States. As a result, I saw tons of people getting around town on mopeds and motorcycles. The only thing that was less expensive in Spain was the public transportation. Taking the metro was cheaper than hoping the “el” in Chicago. I made such observations during a time when the dollar wasn’t doing too well against the other European currencies.

    Government largess is really the cause of most of problems that Spain suffers. A socialist government trying to do more and more while funds are finite and limited. Generous social programs relying on the productive segments of society to sustain its growing thirst for more money will eventually bleed the country dry. Demography points to the frightening reality that Spain, like most European nations, isn’t replacing it indigenous population with babies. Future pensioners won’t have sustainable numbers of new workers to contribute and pay for the growing liabilities. Importing workers may solve some problems, but then other social ills will erupt and Spain will become less Spain and more of something else. Do you really want more Islamic immigrants in Iberia?

    Spaniards are marching in the street and asking for change. What does that mean? President Obama used the same theme about “change” and has since created the most unsustainable debt the world has ever seen. Our government lives beyond its means and now has to borrow huge sums just to function. It’s a ridiculous reality that only government can create and perpetuate. If change means more government, then Spain is in big trouble.

    Sadly, politicians are more interested in themselves as can be measured from the number of perks they grant themselves from the public’s purse. They have forgotten about the people who elected them. It is not a government for the people, by the people, but rather a government to serve and sustain the politicians through larger and more expensive government. Their programs suck the willpower of the populace and leave them with less freedom, less dignity, and, of course, less money!

    My opinion of the Spanish people changed 2004. The train bombings in Madrid produced the swing of support and election of Zapatero, and he in turn followed through with his promise and pulled the Spanish troops out of Iraq. I have and always will see Zapatero’s election as a great sign of weakness manifested by a majority of the Spanish population. The terrorists played them like fools and the cowardice was what they voted for when they cast their ballots. When it was time for the west to stand up and fight, Spain chose to sit it out and collect its pension. Having written all of this I must add that the angst I felt toward Spain in 2004 was no where near the depravity of Obama’s election in 2008. I have more respect for a Zapatero supporter than an Obama voter.

    So what does all of this mean? Less is more when it comes to government. Shrink it by electing the candidates who will reign in the spending, lower taxes, and curtail the corruption.

    • Emma Espejo says:

      First of all, thanks for your comment and sharing your opinion.

      Secondly, I’m not the right person to say what is really happening or to give too much detail about all the problems in my country because I’m not a specialized. I’m learning about them now (because they all are hidden and it’s hard to get the information) but anyway I’m not the one to say nothing but to talk about the general feeling and the situation.

      Having said that, I respect your opinion changed in 2004 but I don’t share it. WE DIDN’T WANT A WAR. The previous government to Zapatero’s was Aznar as you must know… Aznar was elected after a general disappointment with the previous socialist government and since here you can only get or the Socialists or the Populars (not because there’re only two parties but because they are the only ones with the sufficient power to get to the government), the populars won the elections. Mr. Aznar acted on his own. He wanted to become a friend of Mr. Bush and got involved in a war while the Spanish people asked not to. We got really angry because we did NOT want to a war. Was Zapatero elected because of the 11M? hmmmm probably… but not because we where weak but because we wanted to make sure PP was not going to be elected.
      The problem of Spain is not only because of a socialist government (not 100%) nor because we didn’t want to join in war. The problem of Spain comes from further, because we suffered a dictatorship not too long ago and some of the people who worked with Franco is still there… so are some of their ideas… and as we say here “money calls money” and the rich want to become richer…. the problem stays in all those who make sure that they are going to keep their huge salaries, because we still pay for them with our taxes.
      Again…. I’m not going to start telling all the things that go badly in this country, they are too many… but I’m sure we’re not poor despite we (the people) don’t have money.

      What we are claiming now is to be heard. We want the politicians to know we don’t like them and that they don’t represent us, no matter if they are Socialists or Populars, it’s the same thing, the only thing they do is “passing the buck”. We are saying we want a real Democracy, the one we thought we had got after Franco and we want our government to look after us instead of the banks. It’s embarrassing knowing that you don’t have a job and the a man with two children could live for two years with the salary of a politician of the previous government. It’s the way “law” was created… not in 2004 but long ago. A government can’t help the people if the people is paying huge sums of money to its politicians.

      • Right Thinking says:

        Emma, you very thoughtfully and with excellent proficiency of the English language made my point. Nevertheless, time has demonstrated that Iran, or even Saudi Arabia for that matter, probably would have been a better choice of targets rather than Iraq. You may honestly believe that it wasn’t out of cowardice or weakness when your country voted in Mr. Zapatero, but you just can’t underestimate the power of denial. In the same vein, America demonstrated even more cowardice and denial by electing the disaster called Obama.

        Admitting you are weak and foolish is no small task, so I don’t blame you when you avoided the truth and wrote about your angst toward Anzar. To say that Anzar went to war to be buddies with Bush is too simplistic and naïve. He acted on his own? That’s what real men do while docile and cowardly fools fan the flames of fear and discord hoping there are enough like them to listen. Obviously there were. Al Qaeda could not have been prouder! Here’s a good summation if my blunt rendition didn’t shake you up enough.

        I think we are on the same page as far as politicians go. They get into office and forget about why they are there and who they are suppose to serve. The same is going on over here in the U.S. We’re not far from economic disaster given the improvidence of government. Perhaps our situation over here has to implode before people wake up and stop electing Democrats. Obama makes Bush seem rather thrifty and I was in no way happy with Bush’s spending.

        Now I have to tell Marta how she failed to provide adequate scrutiny in the form of counterarguments to my Spanish rant.

        By the way, I’m in the market for a digital SLR. Any recommendations?

        Sincerely,

        Right Thinking

    • Marta says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on the situation in Spain, but I’m afraid your arguments won’t hold against a closer scrutiny.
      First of all, gas prices in Spain are higher simply because we are not oil producers, unlike the States that, though still depending on foreign oil, have a national supply available. About the can of coke, where did you buy it? Prices change immensely from one area of Barcelona to another and I’m sure that in the States you pay higher prices for other products that here are ready available for less. Still I’d rather pay 100 pesetas for a coke than living in a country without a proper system of public healthcare.
      There I said it, bring on the debt because that’s one thing we can work out (we’ve done it again and again: The Depression, the 80s, the post-war era and so on) Bring it on because what we can’t fix is men and women losing their lives over the lack of proper social care. That’s the real loss. Right-wingers claim to be the voice of reason, I’m sorry but they are not. The voice of reason tells me that the only life worth living is the one lived with dignity and compassion and if that means paying some more taxes, well, bring it on.
      About the reduction of government, just one example that I find enlightening. The Bush and Blair governments claimed that they were shrinking government while at the same time increasing the mechanisms of vigilance and repression of the State, that’s right, all that money their voters thought they were saving was being invested in more complex government machinery to keep them under their thumbs. Way to go.
      I won’t expand on Emma’s comment because she tackles the issue beautifully, but I’ll tell you about my experience. The 2004 terrorist attacks didn’t influence my vote. I would have voted for Zapatero anyway, simply because I was sick of a government that had been dismantling systematically all the social structures that gave our people a fighting chance to reach equality.
      I strongly recommend you to read the outstanding book by Historian Tony Judt “Ill Fares the Land” It’ll probably help you see things differently.
      By the way, I don’t care which religion incoming immigrants profess, as long as they don’t bother me. Right now I found Catholics more annoying with their noisy precessions and their crazy bishops!

      Cheers!

      • Right Thinking says:

        Marta, we could go point to point since I don’t type fluff by flying off the cuff without solid facts. I’m a right-winger, but I don’t claim to have all the answers, just most of them! Oil is expense because Spain produces none and taxes the hell out of it. You didn’t like my Coke example, so I could talk about Levis jeans, books, electricity, phone calls, etc. Hall lights are on a timers and escalators activate from sensors when you step on them in Spain because power isn’t cheap. Like I wrote, everything is more expensive expect for public transportation and, oh yeah, cigarettes. Damn, you Spaniards smoke a lot! I remember those filterless Ducados. I don’t even want to think about price I paid for those Mecano concert tickets! Where did I buy the Coke? Over at the University on Gran Via. I got it out of a vending machine around the corner from the bathroom where someone scribbled “Flush twice, it’s a long way to Madrid.” Hey, I know we pay less for Spanish champaign. What’s that stuff called in the black bottle. Gordon Negro? Hey, when are they going to lift the ban on Spanish ham over here? I miss Spanish proscuitto!

        You mentioned health care which is not surprising because liberals often lose their train of thought and resort to themes like health care and social programs when logical arguments aren’t cutting it. I remember sitting in a doctor’s office in Barcelona and speaking with some of the patients in the waiting room. I was there to rent a room from one of the buildings the doctor owned. The others were there because they wanted better medical service and they wanted to get it without waiting. They were all paying out their own pocket to see a private doctor because the state system took too long and provided inferior care. It’s a true story. I’m not making it up. Socialized medicine stinks, but don’t take my word for it. Anything the government gets its fingers into will suffer and medicine is no exception. Canadians come to America for health care because their lousy system doesn’t give them what they need. The U.S. has the “proper” health care system, but Obama wants to destroy it. I’m still trying to figure out why you brought up healthcare in the first place. Oh, you are a lefty. Now I know.

        Okay, you hate Bush, but that doesn’t diminish nor contradict my point about less being more when it come to government. In fact, you failed to even dent that point upon your closer “scrutiny.” Less government is a good thing.

        “I would have voted for Zapatero anyway, simply because I was sick of a government that had been dismantling systematically all the social structures that gave our people a fighting chance to reach equality.” What social structures are you writing about anyway? I need a clue here before I can comment. I’m going to guess some kind of affirmative action legislation like what we have over here, but I’d rather you explain it to me so I can really nail you to the wall. Anyway, I still think the same way about Spain and the 2004 vote. Nevertheless, I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised. I have nothing but fond memories of the Spanish people–especially the Catalans. Maybe the Spanish are just too fun-loving. Why go to Iraq when I can drink sangrilla, eat tapas, and let’s not forget siesta! All kidding aside, you don’t let someone sucker punch you and just shake it off while hoping they’ll just leave you alone.

        You didn’t even touch my discussion on demography and Spain’s population problem. One would think Spaniards wouldn’t have any problem with procreation given the high level of P.D.A. one sees in the streets. You just referred to Emma’s beautiful tackling of the topic. I’m on the same page with Emma regarding politicians and their largess. That’s a given. I just don’t get what you mean by “fighting for equality.” Equality could mean a lot of things, but you didn’t clarify. You have to remember a couple of things. I’m not as smart as you, I’m a male, and, even worse, I’m a conservative American! I do have a hunch, but I’d rather you define the code you write in before I comment.

        Thanks for book recommendation, but the only book I need to read is Bible. I’m just kidding! You know us right-wingers don’t read. And take back what you said about the crazy bishops. Take it back! (LOL)

        I’m assuming English is not your first language. You write very well. Just remember that linguistic prowess does not always translate into clear thinking. Our thinking is radically different and I like to have fun arguing, but we’ll always find common ground in loving Spain. I try to keep up with my Castillano by reading El País and listening to Pepa on No Es Un Día Qualquiera on the podcast.

        I hope things turn around in Spain.

        Sincerely,

        Right Thinking

      • Emma Espejo says:

        First, thanks for taking your time thinking about your comment.

        Secondly, we claim for some respect in this blog and we don’t tolerate a lack of it. We are not separating or creating any difference or quarrel between left-wing or right-wing… Having read all the lines above I understand we (you and I) are not going to agree in too many issues so I’m not going to discuss any of them (it’s not the time or place to do that)

        Thirdly, it’s really a pity you keep focusing on what your country did or have done during the last decade. The problem in Spain is much deeper than that (and has nothing to do with it) and I, being a Spanish citizen, am not going to tolerate anyone says what’s wrong with my country based in such stereotypical and cliché arguments… It really annoys me the touristic expectations of the Spanish life style based on just typical food and maybe holiday stereotypes. I don’t know how long you lived in Barcelona but you learnt nothing from us (maybe you didn’t have the chance to really get involved with Spanish people, you wouldn’t be the first foreign student creating his own group of foreign mates to go party and going back home saying they know everything about the country).
        And by the way… I studied in that same building of the University of Barcelona and a coke costs around… 1 euro? (166 pesetas, 1,4 dollars) twenty years later. I wonder how much it costs in US now but remember US is the “home” of Coke… I’ve seen them much more expensive in UK, France, Belgium, Germany…. You can buy cokes in other vending machines with 1 euro or 1,5 euros…. but anyway… I don’t drink too much coke… or sangria (just in some occasions but it’s not the liquid we get from our taps, just for you to know. And the Spanish spoken in Spain is commonly known as “Castellano” or, in English, “Castilian”, since there are other languages and cultures within our frontiers (but, of course, people only know the clichés.)

        P.S. It depends on the kind of camera you’re looking for and in your interests as a photographer.

    • Marta says:

      Thanks Right Thinking, you’re not a bad writer yourself, as long as one can manage to ignore all the mind-numbing demagogy, you’re an ok guy too!

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to watching “The Daily Show”, reading Marx and trying to destroy the capitalist system from within while at the same time stealing the bread from hard working people. That’s what “lefties” do, don’t we?

  2. Nieves says:

    Qué cosa tan curiosa. Llevo tiempo leyéndote pero no sabía que fueras española :)

    Me aterra pensar que ahora podamos volver a dormirnos. Hay que hacer algo, y rápido :(

    • Emma Espejo says:

      Hola Nieves! Si, soy de Barcelona^^

      Pues sí, lo bueno es que en parte “está en nuestras manos” y que hay mucha movilización así que tenemos que empezar a actuar ya, porque visto lo visto ayer…. :(
      Esto no es democracia si vota la mitad…

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