On 15 May 2011 tens of thousands crowded into the Puerta del Sol…and there they stayed. Told from inside the protest, this is the story of the occupation.

They Call Us Indignados ebook

They Call Us Indignados
Javier Moyano Perez


They Call Us Indignados is the Guardian Shorts Protest! competition winner

They Call Us Indignados is one protestor’s story of what took place during the 15-M protests in the Spanish capital of Madrid. Tens of thousands individuals – young and old, left-wing and right-wing, seasoned activists and novices who felt something had to be said – crowded into the Puerta del Sol … and there they stayed. Moyano’s short but powerful ebook describes daily life in the protest camp and how the protestors kept the occupation going in the face of political and legal opposition. Rich and colour and drama, it is a wide-eyed view of mass civil disobedience in action.


About the Author


Javier Moyano Perez is the winner of the Guardian Shorts Protest! essay writing competition. Born in Madrid, Spain; he studied European Studies and Russian Language from the University of Manchester. He has been following the Indignados movement since its birth, and has been an active participant in its public protests and online assembly. He works as a translator.


This is the first chapter from They Call Us Indignados

14th May 2011

It had been building up since the protests against the war in Iraq. Our politicians could not be trusted. Corruption cases, broken promises and a stiff two-party system only helped to accelerate the process. It was the spring of 2011 and the financial crisis had already kicked in hard. Many people lost their jobs and now they were losing their houses. If the crisis had a face in Spain, it was that of unemployed of families evicted from their homes.

Everyone had debts to pay in Spain, from top to bottom. However, the only ones that got a break from them were the banks. Those same banks had led to this situation, greedily giving out housing loans and funding constructions that nobody was ever going to use just to please some politician.

Looking back now, something was bound to happen. ¡Democracia Real Ya! – Real Democracy Now! – was one of the main protest platforms that afterwards would become the 15-M movement. At first a website only, within three months of its appearance more than 200 organisations including NGOs, ecologists, neighbour associations, youth groups, students’ and teachers’ organisations, Facebook groups, bloggers, mortgage defaulters, the unemployed, and solidarity groups had registered their support.


‘This one is going to be big!’ I said to my friend, waving the small leaflet in front of his face. José Palacios looked at it for a minute without reaching to catch it, as if the piece of paper could infect him with some sort of radicalism.

‘The only times people in this country have gone to protest have been to stop politicians from banning drinking on the streets. Besides, there is no way I am going to one of those; those things are just full of rojos.’ He replied with a smile that made my blood boil. There it was, that word again, the reason why so little social change has ever been achieved in this country.

The Spanish are a divided people; we have been since the civil war (1936–39). The fascists had won. It was part of our history, our culture, but unlike in Germany, some openly looked at the period with nostalgia. Forty years of dictatorship … that’s still more than those of subsequent democracy; more than enough to stigmatise a whole generation with a mark that although not visible at first sight, could never be erased. Forever different, forever divided.

Some thought that the division would not live after the transition to democracy, but how could it not? All those politicians that wrote the 1978 constitution for our new-born democracy were either the same ones that managed the country for Franco, or were those that met in secret basements to conspire against him – and we are their grandsons and granddaughters. José was my unquestionable and loyal friend, but in political terms to me he was just another facha and to him I was just another rojo.

‘Don’t you get it? While we keep thinking in those terms we will never fix anything in this country. We look at Italy and we laugh at how corrupt their politicians are, and at how stupid the Italians are for voting for the same people again and again, but the truth is that we are just the same; we are even dumber, because we have not even realised that we are the same. This is not about left against right anymore. Those in the government do not buy into that crap; they are all a bunch of ambidextrous crooks that are only in for the money and the power. This is about the ones on top stepping over those that we are at the bottom. PP, PSOE, they are all the same thing with a different ribbon.’

José looked at me for a while. I had touched a chord. At the end of the day, we all hated our politicians. ‘OK, let me have a look at that stupid leaflet!’

The message was simple and clear, written in bright yellow letters over a black background:

We are everyday normal people. We are just like you: people that wake up in the morning to go to class, to our jobs – or to look for one – people with family and friends. People that work hard every day to live and give a better future to those around us. Some of us consider ourselves more progressive, others more conservative. Some are believers, others are not. Some have well-defined ideologies, others consider ourselves apolitical … But we are all worried and outraged for the political, economic and social situation of our country, for the corruption of our politicians, entrepreneurs, bankers … for the defencelessness of the people. This situation hurts us all every day. But if we all stand against it together, we can change it. It is time to get moving, time to build a better society together.

‘It says the 15th May, take the streets!’ said José looking at me trying to read my thoughts. ‘That is tomorrow.’


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