Last night, for the 3rd consecutive night, there were violent riots in Barcelona. Yet there has been no coverage of what is going on in the English speaking international press… Why is this?
The anger sparked on Monday over the destruction of Can Vies social centre in the Sants neighbourhood, just a few minutes from the cities main train station. The building was originally built in 1869 and served as a depot for the train company. Then, like many spaces in the city, it was abandoned and left to rot. 17 years ago, social activists occupied the space and turned it into a hub of social and cultural activity. Over the 17 years of diverse activities, it gained huge support from the neighborhood of Sants.
There were discussions between the city council and the Can Vies collective, but talks were broken off on Monday, the riot police were sent in, people were evicted and there were reports of, again, heavy handedness from the Catalan police, the Mossos. Anger spread quickly, people came to support the community and try to prevent the destruction of the centre. One image of the police violence further stoked the publics anger, as a mossos was caught on camera striking a youth on the head as he stood defenceless alongside. Luckily the youth did not sustain any head fractures, but his ear was split open and blood poured. The image went viral quickly on social media and the indignation in Catalunya grew. There were calls to support Can Vies.
That evening there were demonstrations and they quickly got nasty. Riot police swarmed and attacked, Barcelona radicals responded, as they often do, by setting up barracades with the plastic rubbish containers and setting them alight. A TV3 van was also torched. Perhaps the most striking attack and a clear sign of the anger of the crowd was the torching of the bulldozer that had been sent in to destroy the building. The crowds chant became “Si Can Vies va a terra, els barris en peu de guerra” (If Can Vies falls to the ground, the neighbourhoods will take to their feet in war).
By day 2 the head of the police had resigned, due to excessive force. The police had just recently been banned from the use of rubber bullets, after many people lost eyes. Also, some months back, police were accused of the murder of one of the cities main LGBT organisers, he was kicked to death in the street, in Rambla Raval. Most citizens have been out on the streets, due to the severe economic crisis, and they have seen first hand the extreme violence dished out by the police.
Tuesday, night 2, there were solidarity demonstrations in barrios (neighbourhoods) all over Barcelona and many of those saw riots between activists and riot police. Support was growing both within the city and outside. On both nights of trouble, much of the neighbours were out on their balconies banging their pots and pans, making noise, the local way of expressing solidarity with “their” neighbours, commmunity and centre.
Day 3 and there were calls for solidarity actions all over Catalunya. That night, again, violence between police and activists. 200 extra riot police were drafted into Barcelona from other parts of Spain, this puts another odd dynamic to the situation, as the majority of Catalans are in favour of independence from Spain and are set to vote on the issue in November, but this has been deemed illegal by Madrid.
ROSA DE FOC (the rose of fire) is the old Spanish nickname for Barcelona, as many times its history the city has been in flames. Again for 3 nights there has been fire in the streets and anger is growing, who knows what this will lead to? It is both sad and a bit shocking though, how the international press still refuses to tell the world what is going on in the city.
#SomCanVies – English
Can Vies, before the eviction..
– https://storify.com/premsaindignada/efectecanvies – https://storify.com/FranRGuerrero/canviesnoestoca – http://www.eldiario.es/catalunya/opinions/Can-Vies-crisis-modelo-Barcelona_6_265333474.html