Setúbal, Portugal: Reportback from MayDay

Nearly 120 persons participated in the anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist demonstration in the city of Setúbal. This was the 4th year in a row that comrades from various libertarian tendencies marched in the streets of Setúbal, in order to vindicate MayDay and promote the fight against the State/Capital.

In 2011, comrades actively resisted the detention of a demonstrator, what triggered a repression blow. Thugs in uniform went mad and started to shoot people with plastic pellets after the end of the demo. Cops also used their firearms, and shot bullets into the air. People continued to resist, even after the police shooting.

The 2012 demonstration was focused on showing that anarchists are not afraid to step forward and claim their beliefs in public, regardless of the police repression. It was also the first time that the Nazis of PNR were calling for a demo in the city. This is why self-defense was a priority issue that year. Comrades were ready to fight back, well-equipped with helmets, sticks-flags and improvised shields, while many protesters coming from other Portuguese cities attended that demo as well, in order to stand in solidarity with the anarchist space in Setúbal.

This year things were a bit different. Combative spirit was definitely present, but organization of self-defense groups was certainly missing. Nearly 25 comrades were carrying sticks-flags, so there was not enough force to defend the protest march in case the cops would attack, or to go first on the attack against the pigs and the symbols of Power.

Recall that on March 16th, 2013 Rúben Marques was assassinated by the police in the neibourhood of Bela Vista in Setúbal, after a motorcycle chase on traffic regulation violation. The cops that shot the 18-year-old youth with rubber bullets claim he was wearing no helmet. Clashes broke out after this police murder.

On May 1st, from 15pm, demonstrators gathered at Largo da Misericórdia square where the march was scheduled to begin. After an hour or so, comrades read the call-out via megaphone and people started to march. The central banner read: “Abolition of the State/Capital and wage slavery.” There were three other protest banners: “They shall not pass” from an antifascist collective; “Neither representatives, nor represented – Self-organization, direct action, self-management” from the AIT anarcho-syndicalists, and a fourth banner that read: “The People are calling the shots.”

After almost 100 meters, the libertarian blocs walked on the Luísa Todi Avenue where they received an unpleasant surprise: they were standing face to face with the bloc of the CGTP (General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers, linked with the Portuguese Communist Party), but they decided not to waste time by directly confronting them, and continued on one of the side streets.

As the demo passed through working-class neighbourhoods people reached Largo da Fonte Nova square, the location where the police attack took place in 2011. Comrades started to shout: “Here we are once more, without fear, without law.” Neighbours, that helped the anarchist bloc two years ago, applauded the demo in solidarity, showing that they do not forget what happened at the same square.

From a certain point onwards, the police presence was more than tight. Patrol cars were moving along the streets that the demo took, while the bulk of protesters had a public security police unit and a police van on their tale. This fact was frustrating to many; the blocs were outnumbered by cops, so they could not push them back effectively. However, small-scale direct actions took place. In the meantime, several journalists and police agents were filming the demo. The majority of the protesters had their faces covered, but even so, there was no confrontation with the media reporters.

The demo ended at the beginning of Luísa Todi Avenue, near an antifascist monument. The repression forces that were steadily following the protest march remained close to the gathering. Demonstrators collected all propaganda material and tried to leave in groups. But they soon realized that police forces of rapid intervention had blocked access to the rest of the avenue, with instructions not to permit any anarchists to approach the miserable festivities of the presumed communists. Later on, plainclothes cops ran identification checks on four comrades, confiscated their protest material and addressed clear threats against them. Obviously a lot of chanted slogans had seriously annoyed the cops.

Some of the slogans from the day:

Our lives do not belong to bosses – We do not negotiate better deals for our slavery

Our struggle is aimed at the abolition of all forms of Domination

Alerta – Alerta antifascista


Fascism has no place in people’s culture

Insurrectionary struggle without borders; death to the States and the Capital

From Athens to Lisbon, stone-throwing against the cops is always nice

Cops are not workers, they are the Power’s dogs; this is why attacking them is always a pleasure

Solidarity with anarchist prisoners in Greece

Freedom for anarchist prisoners

Cops, pigs, murderers (also in Greek)

The passion for freedom is stronger than all authority

We carry a new world in our hearts, without law, nor god, nor fatherland, nor bosses

Anarchy, destabilization, direct action, insurrection (also in Italian)

The State/Capital is the criminal – Down with the bosses and every prison

We will not tolerate any more of this; we have no more patience – Rage and conscience

Politicians, bankers, get out the palaces and listen: you were born sons of people and you have become sons of bitches

Fucking cops, bastard snitches: we’re going to tie a stone around your neck and throw you into the bottom of the river

Gunpowder and fire for all prisons, and a big grave for all bosses…

sesil nao

Another important activity which was held in the city centre on MayDay was a photo exhibition and distribution of documents and leaflets against the devastation of Arrábida natural park (outside the city of Setúbal) by Secil company, one of Portugal’s largest cement producers. Comrades who prepared this public event of counter-information explained that this exhibition was only their first step toward the struggle against the expansion of the mega cement manufacturing plant in the area.