Javier Romero Gutiérrez
15M Movement left a whole constellation of social movilizations after 2011 that coincided in the use of participative democracy (assamblearianism, absence of hierarchy or independance from the traditional actors such as unions or parties), the rejection of the violence or the transversality in their membership. But, despite this coincidences and the fact that they have usually been seen as a homogeneus cycle of protests, some concrete movilizations achieved their goals while others didn´t get to nothing apparently.
After the demonstrations and campments in Puerta del Sol ended, the assemblies moved from the centre of the town to the districts and villages. At the same time, the new government of the Community of Madrid planned their offensive against education and health -around 60% of the public spending (BOCM, 2013)- following a deficit reduction policy in line with the austerity rule that the Troika impossed, specially, to the PIIGS. This attemps, simbolized in the project of Act of Health Ordenation of the Community of Madrid (LOSCM). Altough it was just one more step in the string of public investment cuts an privatization, it provoqued the social reaction, known as the White Tides that, at the end, succeded in achieving the paralization of this big privatization. The success arrived in January the 9th, 2014, when the regional Supreme Court of Madrid acorded the paralization of 6 public hospitals and the 10% of the 270 centres of primary atention, after the denounces of PSM-PSOE, AFEM (health professionals) and many others.
The White Tide movement appeared to the public opinion in November 2012, with the first massive demonstration against the spending cuts. Nowadays, altough the movement focuses in more concrete issues, 62 “tides” have been made, and the spirit, despite reduced, remains. We could say that the main voice in this movement was of the Table in Defense of the Public Health System (MEDSAP), that aggregates professionals, neighbors, users, unions, 15M assemblies in the districts and auxiliar workers. Their methods of mobilization were demonstrations and “escraches” in front of the Health Department but also strikes, sit-in in hospitals or collection of signatures. All of that combined with communication campaigns to the users in order to make them noticed that the “bad guy” of the movie were the politicians because they wanted to distroy the public system. For that, they donate blood or made emphasis in the good treatment to the patient: “always with a smile” (as an intern advice in the web page of the AFEM said when facing the strike). Besides, they didn´t demand a rise in their salaries. They made a lot of users to be conscious of this problematic, and used the mass media in order to explain their reclamations, that they presented as “the common good”, something that affects us all, broading that way the social support. This graffic shows how they succeded in putting health care into the public priorities.
The assamblery system, present in the vast part of the associations that formed de MEDSAP, was predominant in the definition of the strategy, always convergent with other different movements (like in the massive Dignity Marches in 2015 or the union of the Platform of Affecteds by Hepatitis C). The strenght of a constant mobilization in different levels, in combination with a judicial path made that, when the sentence was resolved, the regional Ministry of Health J. Fernández-Lasquetty had to resign, not even supported by their partners in the National Government. Their plans seemed paralized. Nowadays, despite the PP still governing in the Community (in minority), they haven´t tried a new Act.
But, why this Tide achieved such a success while others didn´t? The explanation seems to lie in diverse details, because other movements such as Green Tide of education or the anti-eviction movement that didn´t achieve their politics goals (the polemic laws remain) were based on the same principles: assamblearianism, non-violence, convergence, mutual support and non- unionism/partisanism. First of all, the White Tide fought against a regional law, a regional government, so they could more easily focus their energies in the big city of Madrid (altough there were different mobilizations all around Spain) where their call power was stronger, while the PAH or the Green Tide had to fight against national laws at national level, and they tended to be visible only in the cities, so the movilization seemed more vague. Following, the “escrache policy” of the PAH was more agressive (going to the houses of politicians and their families) and that reduced their sympathies in the society while the White Tide made “escraches” to public buildings. They became a trasversal movement while the PAH, like it or not, draw cleavages of people “against and in favour” in the society. This transversality made a lot of groups such as political parties (PSOE or IU) join the demonstrations or present demands in the courts. The Green Tide, that could look more similar to the WT, was a little bit different. It was more divided: the two different demonstrations celebrated during almost all the strike days (the students in the morning and the teachers in the afternoon), the divisions between fix teachers and temporary teachers (with different demands). In fact, temporary teachers had a long historial of fights without the support of the fix teachers, so that created a tension (El País, 2011). Also, the divisions between regions: the demands of protection of regional lenguage in Catalonia, Balears Islands or Valencian Country. In Catalonia, the Green Tide was the Yellow Tide, as another visual example of this division. In this case, the support of the National Government to the Ministry of Education was total until his resignation. That made the polemic law (LOMCE) remain in the politic agenda.
We could say that the extraordinary sympathy, trasversality and unity that the White Tide achieved were the key of their success, together with the strenght of the proffesionals resistance, that in some cases, made more than one month of strike, and with the exploration of diverse paths in the fight.
- CAMPOS, Prado. “Por qué se protesta: los puntos clave del conflicto en la educación pública” 24/10/2013. eldiario.es, en línea: http://www.eldiario.es/sociedad/marea_verde/puntos-clave- conflicto-educativo_0_189331076.html
- Europapress. “Huelga indefinida de interinos” 25/10/2011. El País, en línea: https://elpais.com/sociedad/2011/10/25/actualidad/1319493602_850215.html
- BOCM 29 de diciembre de 2012, corrección de errores BOCM 15 de enero de 2013. BOE 12 de marzo de 2013.