The 15-M movement is a protest movement that arose starting with the convening of the Real Democracy Now platform and was forged in the Andalusian capital on May 18th, 2011, when around 1,000 people gathered in centrally situated Encarnacion square, after the announcement spread massively through the social networks. At the end of the afternoon, about 200 protesters decided to set up a camp to stay the night in the square to support the demonstration. Day by day the number of campers and protesters that meet in the square has tripled.
In Seville, as in Madrid, and numerous other Spanish cities the gathering decided to continue the protest in spite of the Electoral Committee’s decision on Friday to prohibit the rallies for the official day of reflection, as well as election day, bringing together more than 10,000 people for the demonstrations that were called for last weekend.
Following the camp model set up in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, a camp was established in Seville this past Wednesday, May 18th. In the heart of this structure a communications commission can be found from which information is disseminated to the various social networks, the press, and other camps around the country. Work groups are in charge of communicating the supply needs of the camp to the outside world in real time, informing people, communicating with those who live in and around the square, as well as with shops and bars in the vicinity. Political parties, associations, and non-governmental organizations are absent and the large majority of the protesters has joined the group spontaneously and of its own initiative, without direction from any type of institution.
The movement is defined as non-partisan and the demonstrations demand the creation of a manifesto elaborating 8 basic points developed by the Real Democracy Now platform. To Sevillanos something is very clear: True democracy should be spread and not only to other Spanish cities but also beyond the national borders.
As the Andalusian capital, Seville has become an important beacon for the protests carried out in neighboring towns and cities. There is predominance of young people at the protests, though people of all ages participate, making the protests a success in terms of the high citizen participation. Numerous citizens visit the camp these days to get informed about the movement or to advise or support the campers. Many have expressed in words the hopes that are wrapped up in this youthful revolt. “We had come to believe that today’s youth wouldn’t mobilize, but now you have reacted and you fan the flames of our passions with your enthusiasm,” declared an older woman at the “Mushrooms”, as Encarnación square has been nicknamed for its peculiar architectural form. The neighbors of the square, as well as the shopkeepers and hotel owners have provided electricity, Internet connection, food, and quantities of materials necessary to supply the protesters and support the diffusion of the movement.
In an Andalusia known for its agricultural character, the unemployment rate is greater than 29 %, while the rate for those under 25 years of age is at 46.8%, numbers which indicate why so many people have decided to spontaneously participate in the political debates taking place at the camp.
After the elections held last Sunday, May 22nd, the “campers” (los acampados) decided to continue the protest throughout Spain, since the objective wasn’t to influence the election results but rather to call the attention of the politicians, bankers, and other people and institutions that enjoy positions of power with the intention that they become aware of the distrust and general discontent aimed directed at them due their attitude over the last few years. Besides the manifesto proposed by Real Democracy Now, the prime objective of the movement is that leaders act in a responsible, upright, and consistent manner with respect to their citizens. For this reason, the protests are going to continue proposing changes in the system with the goal of creating a more transparent, reliable, and equitable democracy.