Spanish Bombs: Granada Street Art, Occupy, and the legacy of Garcia Lorca
Just got back from a trip to Spain, the birthplace of the Occupy movement, which continues to be a hotbed of anti-capitalist activism. The Spanish economy is on the verge of collapse, due in large part to the same predatory banking practices that nearly wrecked the U.S. economy back in 2008, and pissed-off Spaniards have been marching and protesting for many months.
On our trip we drove through Torre del Mar, Nerja and other towns on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain that have been overdeveloped to within an inch of their lives by speculation that was clearly financed by funny money and faulty investment practices that primarily benefit the banking industry. In the meantime, unemployment in Spain is at 24% overall and an insane 51% for those under 25 years of age. More than 5 million people total are out of work in the country.
The Occupy movement has its origins in the Spain in the mass demonstrations of May 15, 2011 and “15-M” activists have continued to protested newly elected conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s rollbacks in workers’ rights such as raising the retirement age to 67 years of age and deregulating the labor market. Over a million people across Spain took to the streets last February, with more than half a millon demonstrators in Madrid alone.
Over 30,000 “indignados”, (“the outraged”) demonstrated on May 15 in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol just a couple weeks before we arrived, protesting against austerity measures. As one demonstrator noted on cnn.com,
“We are really tired of this situation,” said Madrid protester Paola Alvarado, a purchasing agent. “And the new government is the same. They steal our money and give it to the banks.”
We saw these sentiments reflected all over the streets of Granada. Grafitti on banks and cathedrals denounced capitalism, consumerism, and the banking system, and reflected growing anger at speculation gone wild.
Andalucia was a stronghold against Franco during the Spanish Civil War, and famed Granada poet and outspoken leftist Federico Garcia Lorca was martyred by the Nationalists in the early days of the war, so it’s no wonder that grafitti artists in his hometown continue in this spirit of resistance.
It’s great to see that activism and protest is alive and well in Spain. In a country that’s been devastated by unregulated speculation and a disregard for its damaging effects on everyday people, dissenting voices are still speaking up loud and clear.