Five years on, 15-M returns to Madrid protest roots

Thousands thronged Madrid's Puerta del Sol Sunday on anniversary of 15-M protests. Photo: Javier Barbancho / El Mundo
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• Thousands mark anniversary, marching from Plaza de Cibeles to Puerta del Sol
• Chants of ‘They Don’t Represent Us!’ and ‘Yes We Can!’ echoed original protest

Several thousand people marched Sunday in central Madrid to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the 15th May (15-M) occupation of the city’s central Plaza del Sol square that spawned protests nationwide in 2001-2012 against austerity cuts and demanding greater citizen participation in Spain’s democracy.

The marchers Sunday congregated in the Plaza del Sol, where an original group of 40 protesters belonging to the group Democracia Real Ya (Real Democracy Now) movement had convened a protest that multiplied across Spain, with thousands of Spanish citizens of all ages and backgrounds occupying central plazas across Spain. Marchers Sunday echoed the original movement’s chants, ¡Que no nos representan! (They don’t represent us!), ¡Lo llaman democracia y no lo es! (They call it Democracy and it is not!) and ¡Sí se puede! (Yes We Can!) — the latter replicating the 2008 campaign slogan of U.S. President Barack Obama and later taken on board as a central campaign cry of Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos.

Podemos did not participate officially in Sunday’s march, though some of the party’s leaders were either present in the crowd or sent messages of congratulations via social media. Podemos has been criticized by some of the original activists of the 15-M movement, charging it has appropriated the movement for political ends and risks channeling the robust grassroots movement’s energy into a traditional, top-down Spanish political party.

► Read More in Spanish at El Mundo and El País …

► Read Backgrounder in English on 15-M and ‘Indignados’ at Politico …

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