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While the International media is busy looking the other way ...

Tue 31st May 2011

Almost three weeks since the first few protestors occupied the Puerta del sol in central Madrid, it seems that the World's media has either more pressing things to report on, or is simply not interested.

The so-called 'Los Indignados' (Indignant ones) began their protest on Sunday 15th May, with similar protests in other Towns and Cities across the country, however the occupation of Spain's two largest cities - Madrid and Barcelona - were by far the largest.

The thousands of mainly young protestors began their demonstration over issues such as austerity cuts, rising youth unemployment and the country's political system, however the protests have since grown to represent all age groups and the sentiment of the country overall.

The International Media skilfully managed to overlook the fact that, ahead of the regional elections on the 22nd of May, Spain's electoral commission branded the protests illegal for fear of the masses 'influencing the opinion of the electorate', but still the occupation of the centre of Madrid and Barcelona continued.

The resulting landslide victory for the opposing right wing Partido Popular, together with the unprecedented level of abstained or void votes - over 35%, meant the worst loss that the Socialist PSOE party had seen in over 30 years, since Spain's return to democracy. The M-15 protestors had clearly influenced the nation - but still the media was looking the other way.

Two weeks further on, and far from losing momentum, the camp had shown signs of being here to stay. Makeshift tents, kitchens, medical centres - even schools, creche's and IT centres have made the occupied squares a city within a city. Still this didn't impress Fleet Street.

Last Friday, ahead of the Barcelona v Manchester United Champions league final, Barcelona's town hall decided in their wisdom to clear the camp in the city's Plaza de Catalunya. The reasoning being that, in the event of 'high spirits' following the game on the following saturday evening, carnage would ensue if any such rioters found anything in the camps that could be used as a weapon. The protestors prevented the town hall cleaners from entering the square and riot police were subsequently called. A peaceful protest resulted in over 140 injuries, however, the authorities were at pains to point out that 37 Police officers required medical attention. Barely hours after the square was cleared, 'los indignados' had returned and the camp rebuilt. A further act of defiance and permanence, but the media in the UK had other more pressing issues to cover.

Over the last few days reports have been coming in that the M-15 protestors have been contacting similar youth groups in Paris and Athens, via Social Networking sites, and that these groups are mounting their own protests based on the Spanish model. Perhaps the first peaceful revolution to take advantage of social media and spread the word across borders. The international press, it seems, were busy discussing a Volcano in Iceland that almost caused a few delayed flights.

Perhaps because there have been no (serious) acts of violence from either the protestors or the authorities or maybe the tour operators have not been forced to offer holiday makers an alternative choice of holiday, media organisations around the world are just simply not interested.

However, what is clear is that the peacefull and determinded nature of the protests, even in the face of unnecessary and violent law enforcement, has won the support of the nation and looks likely to be the tactic adopted by protestors the world over.

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