“The fascists are on the rise ” scream the left and “Cultural Marxism is consuming our community ” say the ultra right catholics.
Whatever your political standing, you cannot deny that Madrid is a city that likes voicing its opinion. From the regular protesters that camp out in Sol to the weekly protesters supporting many initiatives. Madrid always has something to protest about. Even if you are an English speaker you can get involved. It’s just knowing where to turn.
A few weeks ago I was on my way to see the theatrical version of 1984, by George Orwell, with my wife. We tried to find a parking space around Atocha but we had no luck. Therefore, we decided to drive up to the theatre which was just around the corner from Plaza de Colon. Funnily enough it is also the location of Plaza de Margaret Thatcher, in front of an abandoned international bank that currently has squatters in it. That’s something rather ironic about that.
Anyway we were running a little late and we could not find parking space around the theatre. The reason for this was that they had closed most of the roads around the centre. There was firefighters protesting. Whilst I support them I did get stuck in traffic and ended up not being allowed in to watch 1984.
If you have been in Madrid for longer than two weeks you may have realised that there could be a protest any day of the week. They usually have regulars there such as feminist groups, Communist and anarchist groups. And, of course the fierce trade unions which still have a large membership base in Spain when compared to the UK.
Protests in Madrid often make national and, at times, international headlines. Recently this year there was the taxi protest, where all of the registered official white red striped taxis protested against Uber not paying fees the same fees as them. They blocked the Castellana, the artery that leads to the heart of the financial centre of Madrid. Glorious idea.
Then of course there was the famous Woman’s March which grabbed international headlines in March. Women had a periodic strike throughout the day, some every two hours. Housewives against doing housework for their husbands and they were hanging out aprons on their balconies. Women in businesses joining each other in the street to create a sea of purple in the centre, just for the worlds media to see. I wrote about it here.
Unfortunately, some aprons were hung next to the Spanish flag. It coincided with the feeling of nationalism which swept the country in 2017. This was in the aftermath after the Catalonia independence referendum. Whatever your opinion on this maybe; it does show that people do feel strongly about things in Spain and that all forms of protest are valid.
Of course where the fight against fascism started, when Madrid held out against Franco’s forces taking Spain. People from all over Spain, and the world, came together to fight: the International Brigades. The seize of Madrid lasted for some time and there are still reminders around the capital of this dark time in Spanish history. You can see some of these in my article for Madrid No-frills.
Even the right can protest
It’s difficult to say the Madrid is not a tolerant city. In recent months people have been protesting the removal of the dictator Franco. Whilst many are against there are also many for it. It’s a wound that won’t close and no plaster can heal. To see what life was like at the Franco please see here.
Also recently a ultra right-wing group of the Catholic Church protested against feminism, transgender and Marxism. You can read more about this controversial group here in the report from Progressive Spain. Who would have thought the Church would be so controversial….
For people that only speak English, or have minimal Spanish, going to a group can be nerve wracking but it can also be fulfilling to get involved with other people.
Here are some groups that I have found on and follow on the net. I have not been to all of these groups but I do hope to in the future.
Labour International Madrid
Okay, so this one I have been to. It is the branch of the British Labour Party based in Madrid. They meet twice a month on a Saturday. Here’s my article about them.
Here is their Facebook group .
This group was set up by several different people and has a strong following on Facebook. Whilst many of them are Americans they do get involved with International, Spanish and stateside issues. They seem to be an action group. They have had film showings and organised protests. They also affiliated to the Woman’s March.
Here is a link to the Facebook page.
What is intersectionality? To be honest I didn’t know until recently but, it is my understanding that it involves coordinating groups to help support each other and the basic ethos that we are stronger together. From what I’ve seen this is fresh group in Madrid that seems to be growing. They have organised events on how to deal with racism in the classroom. It’s just a shame there in the evening when I am work.
Here is a link to their Facebook page.
If you are a disenfranchised British national that’s worried about Brexit then this is the group for you. They are a group of British citizens in Madrid and are very involved in the British in Europe lobby group. Obviously they are very involved in the Brexit process.
Here is the link to their Facebook page.
Whilst you might not like to protest there are some other groups that might interest you
The British Benevolent Fund
This is a group of British immigrants that set up a fund around 100 years ago to support British people living in Madrid. They are a charity that gives financial help people that apply for it. They seem to have good connections with the embassy and the Anglican church in the Salamanca district.
Here is a link to their Facebook page.
Madrid for refugees
This is an excellent organisation that helps support refugees that have come to Madrid. They organise music nights, intercambios and have food based events.
Here is a link to their Facebook page
Conservatives abroad Madrid
If you want to find out about them and you have to find it yourself…
If you wanna be more native
If your Spanish it’s a bit better then I would in courage you to become a supporter of Podemos, the far left political party, who are very active in the protest ranks of Madrid as this is where it was born.
The Communist Party is also very strong in Spain as to are the anarchist groups and trade unions. I would love to get involved with these as soon as my Spanish improves.
Yes that doesn’t stop you becoming a member of a trade workers union. I plead you to do this. Even more so if you are teaching English.
You could also try Racismo SOS or a local community center where several groups meet.
Many political groups have local rooms where they hold seminars and have speakers to address the local community. So that might interest you.
If politics is not your thing, then why are you reading this blog? Jokes. Maybe you can join the Resistance book club. This is a bookclub that appears to be going from strength to strength. It is held at El Salon de la Artista, which is also a centre that hold various interesting cultural events.
Madrid certainly has plenty to offer in this turbulent time in history. All of the above I have found or seen within the last year and a half. I wonder what will come around in the next few years.
Hopefully we will have less to protest about although sometimes I’m not so sure. What will you do?