Major bank building occupied as strike bites
Barcelona was the scene of prolonged clashes between protesters and the police during most of yesterday.
Barcelona was the scene of prolonged clashes between protesters and the police during most of yesterday. As the general strike took hold – with transports, docks and distribution, and industry all at a standstill – a broad coalition of libertarian organisations, including the anarcho-syndicalist CNT, entered and occupied a key building a on Placa De Catalunya – the Bank de Espana de Credito.
At noon a large ‘manifestation’ left the occupied bank, including the anarcho-syndicalist CGT, and moved to the Universitat. Here a police car was set on fire. Following this there were running street battles throughout the afternoon. The police baton charged on a number of occasions and finally sealed off the occupied bank which by late in the afternoon had been cleared. A number of arrested were made.
The second main ‘manifestation’ of the day got under way well after 5 pm and was led by the CGT. It was about 3-4,000 in size and moved slowly and noisily from Jardinets De Gracia down towards Via Laietana. As it did, it briefly intercepted with a large group of protestors who were building barricades and setting fire to large dustbin wheelies. Police baton charges followed the march as it moved towards Avendia Catedral where a main confrontation occurred as the march ended. It was a dangerous situation with large number of people trapped on the one hand between the alley ways surrounding where the march convened and, on the other hand, by marauding and careering riot police vehicles which made a point of driving at speed at the protestors. Paving stones were ripped up and fires set before the riot police moved in on foot. More arrests were made and a number of protestors were corralled and beaten by gangs of riot police.
Overall yesterday’s the General Strike here has been a massive success. Large areas of Spain came to a complete halt and Barcelona itself was quiet with about 70% of businesses shut for the day. In a sharp contrast to the situation in Ireland workers went out to make the strike effective. Picketing was serious and effective and it was clear that workers were not sitting back at any time. But as the protests in Barcelona showed, the deepening crisis is bringing more and more people onto the streets. This current crisis had created huge anger and yesterday it very easy to see this.