2011: Year of Protests, political sphere and banks targeted

Arab Spring inspired movements in Spain, Greece and world

28 December, 10:30

(By Patrizio Nissirio).(ANSAmed) - ROME, DECEMBER 27 - In the beginning, there was the Arab Spring. Thousands of people without a clear political leadership who ousted seemingly-irremovable regimes like those in Tunisia and Egypt.

Then, inspired by these uprisings, Spaniards took to the streets in the ''indignados'' movement, who accused a faceless dictatorship - that of the markets, banks, overly-complaisant politicians and those behind the economic crisis, who offloaded the cost on the less-privileged sectors of society. Indignation grew and spread to the US (where it became the ''Occupy'' movement), Israel, Australia, Great Britain, Greece, Italy and many other countries around the world. The protestors ''phenomenon'' was and continues to be a global one, driven and bolstered by such social networks as Twitter and Facebook and illustrated by thousands of videos on YouTube, able to bring together different demands - from those of environmentalists to those of community centres, the unemployed and intellectuals - for a single goal: to change the ''system'', do away with privileges, break up the association between the political world and the financial one, and redistribute wealth.

It is a phenomenon so significant that the protestor, in his or her various national guises, has been named ''Person of the Year'' by the US magazine Time.

An inspiration behind the movement is believed to be Stephane Hessel, a partisan in the French resistance during WWII who later became an activist for immigrant rights and the Palestinian cause, and who in 2010 published a pamphlet entitled 'Indignez-vous!'.

In Spain, the 15-M movement (in honour of May 15, the date of the local elections) occupied Madrid's centrally located Puerta del Sol and lashed out harshly at the austerity measures brought in by the Zapatero government. However, the national battle soon took on the issues of a world uprising against anti-crisis policies, which were almost always based on the bailout of banks and markets with harsh consequences for citizens resulting.

After only five months, on October 2011 and under the name Indignados, dozens of protests took place in almost all Western capitals as well as Tokyo, Sydney and Hong Kong. Rome was the only city in which small organised groups of violent individuals caused the protest of hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators to turn into an afternoon of clashes and destruction. In Greece, one of the countries hit the hardest by the crisis, the protests went beyond the limits of simple protest marches and occupations and were repeated without an established time limit until Giorgos Papandreou's government was brought down.

Elsewhere, a large amount of media attention focused on Occupy Wall Street, which took the form of demonstrations and sit-ins in New York, headquarters of US finance, in Zuccotti Park.

Similar demonstrations were held in 70 other cities in the United States. Even US President Barack Obama has said that ''those protesting are giving voice to the frustration in the country'', faced with injustices sharply amplified by the crisis. In London, demonstrators camped out in front of St Paul's cathedral for many days, even receiving messages of solidarity from the Anglican hierarchy. Some have noted that the recent protests against Vladimir Putin in Russia are also part of the movement of ''indignados'', a fluid wave which takes on different characteristics depending on the location of the protests and difficult to stick a political label on, as well as - with a crisis weighing ever more heavily on the population - one far from being over. (ANSAmed).

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