Spain: Unprecedented student demonstrations against the imperialist war

On Wednesday March 26, a million students marched through the streets of more than 70 cities in Spain against the imperialist war. This protests had been called by the Marxist-led Spanish Students Union (Sindicato de Estudiantes) and are part of a campaign to demand a general strike against the war.

CCOO (Workers’ Commissions) and the UGT must call a general strike now

Today, March 26, the Sindicato de Estudiantes (Spanish School Student’s Union), together with other student organisations, organised another mobilisation against the war. We organised a student general strike in the high schools and universities and demonstrations in more than 70 different towns all over Spain. The turnout was hugely successful. A very high number of students (more than 90%) took part, both in the schools and the universities. A total of more than a million students took part in the demonstrations.

The biggest demo was in Madrid with around 250,000 students. Other big demos took place in Barcelona with more than 150,000, Seville with 30,000, Valencia 25,000, Bilbao over 15,000, Tarragona more than 10,000 Oviedo 10,000, Santiago 7,000, Salamanca 5,000, Gijon, Granada and Vitoria with more than 2,000…

Madrid demo

This was the fourth student general strike called by the Sindicato de Estudiantes against the imperialist war. The antiwar movement is growing and each successive mobilisation is more militant than the one before. For the first time, on this latest mobilisation there was a massive presence of university students.

In Madrid there were three marches from Atocha, Ciudad Universitaria and Recoletos, all converging on Puerta del Sol. It was an exemplary peaceful demonstration. This massive mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of youth on the streets demanding an end to the imperialist butchery against the innocent Iraqi people was the best reply that they could give to the government authorities who had tried to provoke and intimidate the movement.

The Sintel workers were also there and they greeted the demonstrators at the end of the march. The Sintel workers have been involved in a long dispute demanding decent jobs. There were also representatives of IU (United Left), the CCOO, the UGT and the STES. As the march moved along many older people joined the demonstration.

An indication of the militant antiwar mood were the slogans that were chanted on the demo such as, "It isn’t humanitarian, it is imperialist", "No more blood for oil". Others condemned the PP government as being responsible for the butchery in Iraq: "Whose fault is it? It is the fault of the PP government", "If you have the guts call early elections". There were also slogans denouncing police repression of the movement: "They call it democracy but it is not", "Ansuategui resign". A common demand of all the demonstrators was that the CCOO and the UGT should call a general strike: "What we need is a general strike", "No retreat, general strike against the war".

There was a unanimous demand on all these demonstrations for the leaders of the CCOO and the UGT to call a 24-hour general strike now! The aims of this general strike must be that the troops be brought back, the government has no more to do with this war and that Aznar should resign. The massive support for the 15 minute strikes called by the trade unions demonstrate that the conditions for a general strike exist. There is also the example of the strike of the Ferrol and Seville shipyard workers, who are involved in the building of warships. This example clearly demonstrates the ability of the working class to bring the country to a standstill and to stop the war. This is the road that we should be following. A general strike would put the PP government on the ropes. It could even bring the government down, something which the overwhelming majority of the population wants.

Furthermore a general strike would be a way of denouncing the brutal attacks of the police, which is carrying out the dictates of the Ministry of the Interior in an attempt to intimidate workers and youth who come out onto the streets against the government. They are in fact achieving the opposite of what they wished. Today we gave them a lesson in how we struggle, although we also have to condemn the provocative actions of the police at the end of several of the demonstrations, such as in Barcelona, Saragossa, Salamanca and Reus. That is why we are demanding the immediate removal of Acebes, the Minister of the Interior, as well as the resignation of Aznar and his government.

After the success of today’s mobilisations, the Sindicato de Estudiantes wishes to re-emphasise our support for all the demonstrations that are being organised. We also plan to call further demonstrations.

Imperialism is revealing its cruel intentions. They wish to destroy a country and its people in order to rob them of their oil resources. For Bush and US imperialism democracy is just a word with no meaning. Their allies in the region are bloody dictatorships who exploit their own people, and we know that if in the end the US take Baghdad, then the same fate awaits the Iraqi people. That is why the Sindicato de Estudiantes cannot remain neutral in the face of the butchery which is being perpetrated in Iraq. We are on the side of the Iraqi people against the foreign invader. In fact, one of the slogans on the demonstrations was: "Iraq resist, the world is rising up". February 15 demonstrated how it is possible to co-ordinate the struggle on an international level. Who can doubt that an international general strike, called in Spain by the CCOO and the UGT, in Italy by the CGIL, in Britain by the TUC and in the United States by the AFL-CIO, could not stop this war? A massive mobilisation of the workers and youth is the way to stop imperialism.