The fractures of modern society are many. The factory/latifundia of the 19th century have been replaced by the 21st century city as the space of contestation. The proletariat is now inclusive of workers, as well as of the precarious, the homeless, the immigrant and all of those made expendable by the violence of State-Capital and who contest that violence. Amidst the serpentine front lines of this war, where enemy and foe have become ambiguous, urban okupations, as efforts to carve out spaces of autonomy in the heart of the beast are crucial. That they may be comprised by ambitions of legalisation or cultural utility is undeniable (many of Italy’s okupied social centres offer examples of such compromise). But then all instruments of battle may be so compromised. Yet acknowledging the risk, okupied social centres play a potential crucial role in the rebellion against capital. And thus the effort of the State’s to put an end to them where they most self-consciously seek to contest State-Capital.
Madrid, long a privileged territory for this war, has since the 15th of May, 2011, perhaps best exemplified the conflict in spain. On the 28th of November, the CSOA La Gotera was evicted by the police, after four years of militant activity. (News: Tercera Informacion, Oficina de Okupacion de Madrid)
What follows are english translations of two documents: first, a communiqué released after the eviction, second a statement made at the second anniversary of La Gotera.
Press Conference Communiqué on the eviction of La Gotera (28/11/2012)
Today, on the 28th of November, at roughly 11:00 am, the Okupied Social Centre “La Gotera” of Leganés was evicted.
Some twenty police presented themselves without earlier notification in the vicinity: they surrounded the social centre, blocking all vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the area, in an exaggerated display of power, their faces covered, and their identifications hidden.
With this “spectacular” mise en scene and the taking of the neighbourhood by the police, they proceeded to carry out the eviction. At this time, members of the assembly of the social centre demanded confirmation of the order of eviction from the police, who quickly entered the centre, preventing the removal of properties and material, when the law stipulates that during a process of eviction, that the okupiers have three hours to remove their belongings. The immediate arrival of the collectivity’s lawyer, and that of tens of neighbours, comrades and sympathisers who responded to the call of support, helped to break the police action, allowing the removal of belongings in during the legally established time.
From the Assembly of the Okupied Social Centre La Gotera, we denounce through this communiqué, the repression and the eviction that have not put an end to the many life giving projects here created during the course of four years; through activities, actions, workshops, this space, abandoned for 25 years and in a state of ruin, became a place for self-managed gatherings. We want to declare the necessity of autonomous spaces, free of corrupt political administration, which generate a real and viable alternative in the social fabric through spaces of participation, self-management and culture.
This eviction does nothing more than motivate our conviction in the need to continue to struggle and to create freed spaces before the barbarism of urban speculation and social inequalities.
For all of this, we invite all to participate in the demonstration that will take place this Sunday, the 2nd of December, at 19hrs in the Plaza de España (Leganés), against the eviction of la Gotera and in defence of freed and self-managed spaces.
Two Years Reconstructing rebel Spaces in the Neighbourhood (02/04/2010)
The 8th of April will mark the second anniversary of the okupation of the abandoned market of La Zona. On that day, a collectivity of youth re-appropriated an unused space in Leganés, a place of which the neighbourhood and its’ social aspirations could do without for no longer. For this reason we say that to okupy is to recuperate what belongs to all of us and not to the bureaucracy and local speculation. The old market came alive through the efforts of all the persons and collectives that during these two years made positive contributions, and for whom the principal objective was to create a social space that brought together ideas and proposals that went beyond the official polices/projects of the public authorities. And this became reality from the very first day. Cleaning the space of its accumulated rubbish and debris, consequence of the neglect of many, new walls were raised between which for two years, a multitude of cultural and political proposals were spoken of, debated and agreed upon in La Gotera.
From daily activities to sporadic workshops, there was space for culture, sport, music, self-learning, in a multiplicity of activities. Also, for those who participated in this experience, they were able to learn and understand the problems that afflict our societies, such as the violation of human rights, race inequality, the abuse of the planet, the cupidity of power and its’ states, or the exploitation of capitalism. Struggles and alternatives for those who absorbed La Gotera took them to the streets: solidarity with prisoners, anti-fascism as a tool of struggle, or okupation as a response to the brutal exploitation of our neighbourhoods.
For this reason, La Gotera felt the urgent necessity in Leganés to begin the task of reconstructing rebel spaces, which years past had served the youth of the time as points of encounter for their illusions and proposals of struggle.
And it is now, when the path followed has given us experience and perspective, which we have decided to take the next step that takes us beyond the physical limits of the abandoned market: a horizontal and assembly based project that participates in the reconstruction of the social fabric and struggles in our neighbourhoods, that initiates an organisation from bellow that is free of any official political interference, that is capable of defending the conquests and rights fought for by earlier generations and is capable of radically confronting this predatory system that places money and commodities before persons and their needs.
Organised, we are a neighbourhood!
The Abandoned Market for those who use it!