As I’m writing this there’s a helicopter circling over Valencia and I can hear the chants and whistles of the protestors outside my window. My path home conveniently led me smack into the middle of an enormous demonstration in the middle of town, where thousands have gathered for a demonstration. Signs held high and police on every single street corner, it was the day that we had all been warned about: Spain’s third general strike.
In every city people took to the streets to express their distress with the state of economic affairs and Spain’s slow response to fix it. With an unemployment rate of 25% many Spaniards are disheartened—there are simply no jobs. Led by trade unions, 75% of professors and 90% of students joined in the strike due to changes in education policy and cuts. Students are also hit hardest by the crisis with a youth unemployment rate of over 50%, leading to the vast majority of young people living at home until at least age 30, unable to buy a home after the housing bubble burst. Today everything is closed and there are minimal necessary services. Buses that usually run eight times an hour will run once. Many picketers were also said to be out, impeding work and furthering the strike.
Earlier today in Valencia, many groups had formed and had lit things on fire in the streets and there have been many reported cases of violence, but as of now nothing has been out of control. This is the last of three general strikes held across Spain this year alone.
All being said, I am absolutely fine. It’s a pivotal moment for Spain to determine their economic destiny and it’s exciting to be a part of it. There would never be a general strike in the United States, so it’s interesting to learn about.
This link has some great pictures showcasing the strike in different parts of Spain.