September 3rd. Inaugural ceremony of the academic year at the School of Medicine of the Madrid Autonomous University (UAM). The ceremony is annually attended by a who’s who from every public university in Madrid, as well as many other important highly-placed political figures of the State. Esperanza Aguirre (president of the of the Madrid regional government) was scheduled to appear but, thanks to the pressure created, she did not dare to show her face.
Everything started in the morning, at 9am, as people met at the closest subway station, Begoña. From there, a large group headed to the faculty building; at the entrance we met more people, apparently, around 100 people. Banners were opened: “No to the privatization of health and education”, a couple with the signature of the unions CCOO-UGT (yellow unions) with slogans for public schooling, and another one breaking the mainstream thinking: “Burn politicians. Espe (for Esperanza Aguirre), don’t go away; Espe die”, carried by a group of comrades from different collectives brought together for the occasion.
The morning started quite oddly, it seemed that an “assembly” was being held, with a leader from the CCOO mainstream union at the UAM presenting his boring speech. At this point it was not clear whether we would enter the auditorium, but finally it was decided that we would enter “peacefully”. Is it pacific to attend an event to which you have not been invited in order to prevent it from taking place? Anyway…
The decision to go in was taken and there was no opposition from the security guards while two national policemen watched from inside the university premises but outside the aforementioned school. We passed through the doors into a corridor leading to the auditorium. People talked among themselves, but no slogans were chanted. Demonstrators dispersed among the attendees of their own accord, and a man in a suit asked:
—Will you let the act take place?
—No, I mean, if you won’t, I’m leaving.
—Then, you better go…
A few meters away, among all those people, a comrade made out Arturo Fernández (vice-president of the Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organizations, CEOE), one of the biggest and toughest businessmen in Spain. The comrade told his comrades about it, and the storm started with “Arturo, bastard!” repeatedly and catchily, followed by the classic: “Companies out of the university” or “The bosses only understand one language: boycott, strike and sabotage.” Arturo got the hell scared out of him and hurried to get shelter under lock and key in a near room. He would not attend the ceremony, the chair reserved for him remaining empty. For once, it was the businessman that got scared.
We were already inside, the whispering continued and the banners are unfurled again. We moved on to singing slogans: “Espe don’t go, Espe stay. Espe, just joking, Espe die”, “Politicians out of the university”, “Esperanza, get your veins cut”, “Our cuts will be done with a guillotine”, “Struggle is the only way”, and many pamphlets were thrown into the air… People wearing togas arrived (yes, with togas from two centuries ago, they call it progress…), and as they took their seats, the rectors got on the stage trying to get the ceremony started. As they tried. the crowd stood up raising red cards while screaming out many different things, slogans for the public schooling system, against privatization, against Esperanza Aguirre and the Rector and for an indefinite strike. The ceremony was totally chaotic with 70% of the people inside in favour of the protest. The henchmen of the Rector (Hi, Ossorio!) tried to calm us down, but their efforts were in vain.
The situation had got heated and we decided to advance, trying to get up to the stage with the banner. Bouncers got in our way, pushing and trying to attack us; one of them tried so hard that he tripped over himself and fell flat on his face, Fuck you asshole!. Due to this, the public’s answer was “Less repression and more education”, a show of support that pleasantly surprised us.
Time passed and the ceremony was cancelled – a small victory and a good way to start the academic year.
Let’s point out that during the ceremony, the hosts of the event on several occasion addressed the union leaders, claiming the demonstrators who were booing and hissing were “their people”; but the bureaucrat as usual, denied it,, and so was reproached again by our comrades. Then, he tried to rectify himself – they are such a pain! We are neither your people nor do we want to be, let’s make it clear! The thing is that the protest, the anger and the rage of people, as has become normal, exceeded the limits of reformist, subsidized unionism. Bravo to those people who fight.
It was a nice surprise to see people’s willingness to fight. Let’s point out that there were not only students present, as the official press says, there were many workers from universities and sabotaging the ceremony was an action by all of us. So, as you can see the academic year is starting off with a bang.
Struggle is the only way!
Long live those who fight!
Pamphlets distributed by the attending comrades:
Esperanza (a play of words is made here, since esperanza also means “hope” in Spanish) is coming to the University- Uncontrolled and ungovernable people from UAM (FEL UAM)
Aguirre Die!-Grupo Bandera Negra (FIJL)
This is a personal account, and tells how the ceremony was lived in the first person, since no articles “from inside” have been published and all of those online (even on counter-information sites) come from the mainstream media.