Environment Magazine

Anti-Road Demonstrations in Burgos Have Caught the Spanish Government’s Attention

Posted on the 16 January 2014 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

by Paul Geddis / Vice Magazine

Photos by Guillermo Rivas Pacheco and Daniel Rivas Pacheco

Photos by Guillermo Rivas Pacheco and Daniel Rivas Pacheco

Until four days ago, the town of Burgos in northern Spain was best known for a kind of blood sausage made with rice.

But on Friday it made the headlines for something even less palatable—a protest by a neighborhood association against the building of a new avenue through the heart of Gamonal (one of its most traditionally working class districts) that descended into violence. Roadworks were dug up and used as projectiles, bank windows were smashed in, and heated battles were fought between the tracksuit-clad protesters and riot police drafted in from nearby Valladolid.

The first day of rioting resulted in 19 arrests and a handful of stories in the press. What no one expected was that the riots would continue for the next three days, turning the center of the city into a no-go zone and prompting journalists who should really know better to throw the words “Homs” and “Aleppo” around like hyperbolic grenades.

As the protests have continued the tone of the reports has changed. The first dispatches focused on cataloging the arrests and acts of vandalism, but as the protests have gone on the media’s initial incredulity at the possibility that people anywhere could get so pissed off over a road is gradually being replaced by an understanding that that’s exactly what’s happening. And the playing out of local concerns on a national stage is not something to be sniffed at.

burgos1

Photos by Guillermo Rivas Pacheco and Daniel Rivas Pacheco

In the neighborhood itself, support for the protesters from locals revolves more around this bigger picture. While everyone condemns the violence, their statements are quickly followed up with a, “But maybe now they’ll listen to us.” Raul Salinero, councilor for the center left Izquierda Unida coalition, told El Pais that the protests are “the result of desperation. We’ve been trying for months to talk to the mayor about this, with no results.”

“This” is the investment by the local conservative government of $11 million into a non-essential beautification project. The work is to be completed by a building company owned by a man locals call the cacique (a term for a businessman who runs everything in the area), Antonio Mendez Pozo, who also happens to be the president of the city’s Chamber of Commerce and the owner of the local paper, El Diario de Burgos. With such a lucrative contract randomly falling into Pozo’s hands, it’s easy to understand why people in the area are so upset.

Although the sustained and coordinated violence in Burgos is virtually unprecedented in Spain, Gamonal itself is by no means unique. It’s a working class neighborhood in a provincial city, where residents feel ignored and unrepresented by the political class, so they want to make their voices heard any way they can. And now, thanks to the protests, it’s not just the local government listening, but the whole country.

On Monday, the government announced that they’d be sending a unit of 100 extra riot police into the city to restore order to the neighborhood and to prevent “contagion.” While, in this case, they’re referring to other parts of the city, something tells me that the government is more concerned about the wider picture—the eruption of similar rioting in any of the countless towns and cities just like Burgos. And so they should be.

Additional reporting by Guillermo Rivas Pacheco

Follow Paul on Twitter: @pauldotsimon


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Easy Breezy Summertime Looks

    Easy Breezy Summertime Looks

    Mid-Atlantic states are notoriously known for their humid weather in the summer. They rival the swamplands of Florida. The saying, "it's not the heat, it's th... Read more

    9 hours ago by   Bridgetteraes
    FASHION, LIFESTYLE
  • The Xroadie Files

    Xroadie Files

    Revbjelde – Severance Mordecai Smyth – Mellotron, Andy Prince – Chapman Stick, Guest Musicians Severance slow melodic sounds that just seem to work... Read more

    13 hours ago by   Ripplemusic
    ENTERTAINMENT, MUSIC
  • Trump and Putin Might Have Thought Helsinki Summit Was Private, but...

    Trump Putin Might Have Thought Helsinki Summit Private, Intelligence Agencies from Finland Sweden Likely Reported Almost Real Time

    Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin might have thought their meeting in Helsinki yesterday was virtually private, but that almost certainly was not the case, report... Read more

    13 hours, 21 minutes ago by   Rogershuler
    LEGAL, SOCIETY
  • Learn the Language of Your Brows "Browmoticons" | Happy Brows

    Learn Language Your Brows "Browmoticons" Happy

    Brows speak volumes about yourself, you can communicate with other people without even speaking with just using your eyebrows. A subtle arch can reflect your... Read more

    13 hours, 53 minutes ago by   Rayrose Camille Samson
    HAIR & BEAUTY, LIFESTYLE
  • Wildacres Report

    Wildacres Report

    That was the week that was. About a hundred writers convene on the mountain for a week of workshops, music, partying, and quite a lot of silliness. Read more

    14 hours, 30 minutes ago by   Vickilane
    CREATIVITY, PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Ultra-gorgeous Gala Montenapoleone Trunk Show and Bridal Party

    Ultra-gorgeous Gala Montenapoleone Trunk Show Bridal Party

    Love4Weddings Love4Weddings - A Stylish Wedding Blog Σήμερα, σας παρέχουμε μια μικρή γεύση από το ονειρικό trunk show του οίκου Gala Montenapoleane και του... Read more

    15 hours, 30 minutes ago by   Love4weddings
  • The Ultimate Romantic Wedding Inspiration | Love4Weddings Bridal Party

    Ultimate Romantic Wedding Inspiration Love4Weddings Bridal Party

    Love4Weddings Love4Weddings - A Stylish Wedding Blog Σε αποχρώσεις του απαλού ροζ και του αστραφτερού χρυσού, στολίστηκε ο υπέροχος εσωτερικός χώρος του... Read more

    15 hours, 30 minutes ago by   Love4weddings

Magazines