I wasn't sure to include this on my blog or not, I tend to be quite positive on here. Write about the fabulous things I love about Barcelona. Good things, fun things, beautiful things. Barcelona was not beautiful yesterday. Barcelona was not good nor fun. Barcelona was downright scary.
Yesterday was quite a horrible day in Barcelona. It was the day of the general strike, all over Spain, against the government’s labour reform and also marking that 100 days have passed since the new prime minister got elected and promised he would make sure the sky high unemployment rates would go down. That has not happened, the unemployment rate is increasing progressively. And it’s bad. BAD. The unemployment rate for young people is close to 50%. That is a number so high I can’t really wrap my head around it.
So, people felt the need to go on a strike. It started as a slow and somehow peaceful manifestation with thousands filling the streets of the city centre, but then – as always (?) there are some people who don’t understand the difference between a peaceful strike to manifest your opinion, and pure violence and vandalism… It got out of hand. The police ended up using tear gas and shooting rubber bullets. Stones and other objects were sent flying through the air. Containers were set on fire. Shop windows were broken. A Starbucks was set on fire. What good is it going to do for the unemployment rate to vandalize people’s businesses? What fault does the owner of the shops and restaurants have of the politics in this country going bad? Why should they be affected like this? I think it’s sad that these things get so very much out of hand.
Yes, the political and economic situation in Spain is very bad, unbearable for many. It brings out desperation but what happened here yesterday has nothing to do with that. It’s just an excuse for these people to act out. And it is scary.
According to the newspaper El mundo the labour union estimated that 800 000 people were out in the streets of Barcelona yesterday to claim the withdrawal of the labour reform. And a total of 10 million all over Spain. The police in Barcelona says it’s closer to 80 000 than 800 000 though. There are lots of different numbers circulating the web and I don’t know what’s true, I just know that there were a lot of people and that it turned ugly.
Today things are back to normal. But the city is full of scars, in grafittied windows and buildings, broken shop windows and left overs from the burnt containers.