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What's going on? A summary in English.
14 mar 2004
I've tried to summarise here what has been going in in Spain leading up to the terrible attacks in Madrid and Today's general elections in order to provide some background.

What's going on?

A summary of events leading up the the Madrid attacks and the general elections for those in need of a bit of background

Today (March 14) as most people already know, general elections are taking place in Spain. Prior to the horrendous attacks in Madrid on Thursday, the polls were showing that Spain's ruling part, the PP (Partido Popular) were ahead. The PP have been in power now for two terms, some eight years since the socialist (PSOE) were voted out amongst allegations of corruption and manipulation. Since being in power, the PP have become known for unpopular right-wing policies, typically favouring the middle-classes. The cost of living has being going up steadily in the last few years, most notably in the price of property, which house prices have more than doubled in the last five years. Wages in Spain have not risen accordingly and many people find themselves totally excluded from being able to get a foot on the first rung of the property ladder. In addition to this and apart from scandals involving corruption cases and the polemical diversion of the Ebre river to feed the golf courses and hotels of Mucia and beyond, the PP led government was highly criticised for the mis-handling of the Prestige disaster. They took Spain into war against Iraq alongside the UK and the US despite public opinion being over 90% against Spain's support for the war. The apparent reasoning appears to be the current president, José Maria Aznar's hope that the US would reciprocate the support in Spain's own fight against ETA. It does not appear that the US is all that interested in this respect.

The situation in Spain with the Basque terrorist group at this time has precedents similar to that of Great Britain and Ireland with the IRA in the Eighties. The current government line is one of no dialogue with the terrorist group whatsoever. This attitude has become stronger following the terrorist attacks of September 11 2002 and has culminated in the criminalisation of Batasuna, a political party widely regarded as being the political wing of ETA - in much the same way as Sinn Fein is to the IRA in Northern Ireland. Recent events where the recently elected Catalan socialist and independentist, Josep-Lluis Carod-Rovira was spied upon by the Spanish scret service (CNI) whilst having a meeting with ETA leaders in Perpingnon, apparently to try to encourage dialogue between the group - presumably following the example of Northern Ireland - led to Carod's demonisation and his standing-down as second in command of the newly elected Catalan autonomous government (la Generalitat de Catalunya). Since this incident, the PP's leaders and parlimentarians have not ceased to criticise Carod, his party, the socialist (for pacting with them to form goverment) and even the Catalans themselves - to the extent where one politician accussed all supporters of Carod's party (Esquerra Repúblicana) murderes. This hasn't gone down particularly well.

And so we come to the terrible events of March 11 and who commited the atrocities. Was it ETA or was it Al Qaeda? Politically this is a critical question, given that if it was ETA then the governing PP's hard line against ETA and terrorism can be seen as being justified and therefore, they would be more likely to win the general elections. Conversely if it was Al Qaeda, which evidence seems overwhealming to indicate, then the government is directly responsible for having taken Spain into war upon Iraq, a war which over 90% of the population was opposed to. They would therefore stand much less chance of gaining the absolute majority they need or even winning at all. This has been the great question in Spain since the Madrid bombings. In the protests people have been asking 'Who did it?'. The government's line has been that it was ETA, which they have maintained right up until yesterday evening before the announcement by the Home Secretary of Al Qaedas admission by video. They have maintain this line despite the secret services and security forces suspecting that it wasn't ETA since the day of the attack and despite many experts on ETA and Al Qaeda saying that all signs point to the latter and not the former. Both ETA themselves and Batasuna have denied responsability for the attacks. The goverment is now widely accused of hiding and manipulating the information available to them because they knew that it would be disadvantages to them in the elections.

So the elections of today are surrounded by a situation of deep grief of the deaths of so many innocent, shock at what has happened, disillusion at the manipulation of the media and disgust at the government's handling of this - the possibility that they have manipulated the information about these abhorrent attacks for political gain is almost unbelievable. Yesterday's demonstrations in from of many of the PP's headquarters around the country were declared as illegal and illegitimate by the PP's candidate for president - it seems that the government is only interested in protests that they are allowed to manipulated; they forced that the slogan for the marches on Friday contained the a phrase in support of the Constitution - an act that seems to be nothing more than an attempt to provoke the more independentist parties and local governments. In Barcelona on Friday night, although the government said they were, the people were not protesting 'for the Constitution' per se, but rather in disgust and shock of what happened in Madrid. This appears to have been another attempt at manipulating this tragedy. On top of all of this there have been two deaths of protestors at the hands of the police, which intentional or accidental, can only help to increase the tension that is felt across the whole country at the moment. Spaniards will be holding their breaths tonight.


Re: What's going on? A summary in English.
15 mar 2004
como para poner un link en columna central
y que lo copien otros indymedias
Re: What's going on? A summary in English.
16 mar 2004
Thanks for the info. Only thing I disagree with is that the September 11th attacks happened in 01 not 02.
Sindicat Terrassa