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June 2012, Week 5

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Spain: Miners on Strike Bring Struggle to the Net

By Elena Arrontes - Translated by L. Finch
Global Voices
June 29, 2012

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/06/29/spain-striking-miners-bring-struggle-to-the-net/

On May 23, 2012, Spanish miners went on an
indefinite strike in the coalfields and in the streets,
blocking roadways and forming barricades. The
movement is protesting the government's decision to
do away with 63 percent of state subsidies of coal.
The cuts to the Spanish coal mining industry do not
include any solutions for their consequences: the
cuts are not paired with any professional retraining
for the miners, and will therefore add to the already
high number of unemployed in the country.

The mining protest has had a strong echo on social
networking sites. The Twitter account "Mineros de
Leon" [2] [es] (Miners of Leon), which has renamed
itself "Miners of Spain", has had intense activity and
almost 10,000 followers. The man behind the
account, Victor Herrero, who is the son and
grandson of miners, wants to disseminate the
miners' struggle on the Internet. He retweets
messages of support he receives, including from
outside Spain, and means to prevent any incitement
of violence.

From that account, he has reported on the Marcha
Negra (Black March), a march started last Friday
which will end in Madrid on July 11. The miners
have also responded via the web to criticisms and
doubts making the rounds about their sector. Below
is an excerpt of the "Letter from an Asturian miner"
written by Juan Jose Fernandez which is circulating
around the Internet:

    La lucha que estan llevando los companeros en
    estos momentos, no es para pedir dinero, sino
    para que se respete el acuerdo firmado el ano
    pasado entre el Ministerio de Industria y los
    sindicatos mineros, la firma de este acuerdo tenia
    unas ayudas asignadas hasta el ano 2018.

    este dinero lo dio La Comunidad Europea y no los
    Gobiernos Espanoles, con esto quiero decir que
    no lo puso ningún espanol para ayudarnos como
    piensa mucha de la gente que tanto nos critica.
    En cuanto a este dinero lo que yo me pregunto,
    como casi todas las familias mineras, es donde
    esta la parte de los Fondos Mineros que
    supuestamente iria destinada a la creacion de
    industrias alternativas al carbon en las cuencas
    mineras, despues del cierre de las minas. Pues
    bien, como en muchos otros sectores, el dinero lo
    manejaron los politicos y los sindicatos. Con
    parte de este dinero, os podria decir, por ejemplo,
    que el Senor Gabino de Lorenzo ( ex-alcalde de
    Oviedo) pago las farolas de su ciudad, el nuevo
    Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos y otras
    muchas obras. La ex-alcaldesa de Gijon ( la
    Senora Felgeroso) lo invirtio en la Universidad
    Laboral y como el primero, tambien en otras
    obras.

"The struggle that my fellow miners are enduring at
the moment is not to ask for money, but to have the
agreement signed last year between the Ministry of
Industry and miners' unions, which said subsidies
would be assigned until 2018, be respected.

"This money was given by the European Community
and not the Spanish governments, by this I mean to
say that no Spaniard is made to help us like many
of the people who criticize us think. As for this
money, what I wonder, like almost all mining
families, is where is the part of the Mining Funds
that supposedly would be going toward the creation
of alternative industries to coal in the mining fields,
after the closing of the mines. Well, like many other
sectors, the money was handled by the politicians
and the unions. With part of this money, I could tell
you all, for example, that Mr. Gabino de Lorenzo (ex-
mayor of Oviedo) payed for the city's streetlamps,
the new Exhibition and Conference Center and
many other public works. The ex-mayor of Gijon
(Ms. Felgeroso) invested it in the Labor University
and like the former, also in other public works."

Miners Enter Arino [3]

Residents welcome the arriving miners in Arino on
their march. Photo by Democracia Real Ya.
http://es.globalvoicesonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/mineros-375x251.jpg

The webpage Lanzanos.com [4] is home to a
crowdfunding campaign that has already collected
more than 9,000 euros (US $11,176) to support the
Marcha Negra; this has made it possible to rent an
RV to attend to the protesters, in case one of them
should come down with heatstroke or any other
incident should happen. Here is part of the message
that accompanied the petition for donations:

    El movimiento Mineros de Espana nace como
    respuesta de este colectivo al silencio informativo
    que sufriamos al comienzo de nuestras
    movilizaciones por los diferentes medios de
    comunicacion. Escogimos Twitter por ser la red
    social a nuestro parecer mas directa de llegar a
    los ciudadanos y poder ensenarles de primera
    mano todo lo que va aconteciendo en nuestra
    lucha. las redes sociales nunca habian sido
    utilizadas en una huelga minera siendo Victor
    herrero el que tras hablar con los responsables de
    CC.OO comienza a tuitear y a arengar a los
    mineros que estaban en las carreteras. El
    inmediato interes generado por todo el colectivo
    obrero de diferentes y dispares sectores y el apoyo
    popular en la calle nos hice crecer como la 5º
    cuenta de Twitter mas recomendada a nivel
    nacional en tiempo record.

"The Miners of Spain movement was created as a
response to the collective silence of the media that
we suffered at the beginning of our mobilizations.
We chose Twitter to be our social network home in
order to be the most direct with citizens and to be
able to teach them first-hand everything that is
happening in our struggle. Social networks never
have been utilized in a miners' strike, it being Victor
Herrero who through speaking with the leaders at
CC.OO [trade union] began to tweet about and to
rally the miners who were in the streets. The
immediate interest generated by this collective of
workers from different and distinct sectors and the
popular support in the street has made us grow to
be the fifth most recommended Twitter account on a
national level in record time."

The web has allowed for strong social support to
affirm the miners' cause. Another of the events
closely followed by the Internet has been the
removal of the miners' wives when they attended a
budget vote in the Senate last week. Once the
results of the vote were made public, the women
began to sing the hymn of the miners, some in tears.
They denounced the treatments that they have
received and the lack of negotiations with the
politicians.

In the following video, those supporting the miners
sing the miner's hymn in the Senate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=h6fwZsNK3n8
____________

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in
Crisis [1].

Article printed from Global Voices:
http://globalvoicesonline.org

URL to article:
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/06/29/spain-striking-miners-bring-struggle-to-the-net/

URLs in this post:

[1] Europe in Crisis:
http://globalvoicesonline.org/specialcoverage/europe-in-crisis/

[2] "Mineros de Leon":
https://twitter.com/#!/Mineros_leon

[3] Image:
http://es.globalvoicesonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/mineros-375x251.jpg

[4] Lanzanos.com: http://www.lanzanos.com/

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