general strikes in spain

map of spain

1997, march 7 - political party calls general strike to protest persecution
after having 23 of their leaders imprisoned, the left-wing basque political party herri batasuna (hb) called a general strike in the southern basque country which is under spanish administration. they were charged with "collaborating with an armed group" when the hb endorsed a peace proposal put forward by the basque resistance organization euskadi ta askatasuna (eta). despite the impressive deployment of security forces, the strike received substantial support.

1909, july 26 - august 1 - barcelona responds to army recruitment with general strike and riots

in an attempt to capture an area of morocco rich in iron mines, a spanish force was decimated by a much smaller arab army. madrid, long viewed with animosity in the catalunya region (and particularly barcelona), decided to recruit a retaliatory force from among the catalan population. on july 25, over forty thousand men, all working class and most with wives and children, were called to set sail for morocco.

the next day, the city of barcelona rose up against what was referred to as the "bankers' war." an increasingly militant and organized work force, led by the anarcho-syndicalist confederació nacional del treball (cnt), stopped all production in the city. meanwhile, the pent up hostility to the centralist rule in madrid manifested itself in thousands rioting in the streets. as had often happened in barcelona's past, such violence rapidly devolved into an orgy of anticlericism. churches, monasteries, convents and religious schools went up in flames.

once the violent frenzy exhausted itself on august 1, it became time for the authorities to rebuild and find scapegoats. the man selected for this role was an anarcho-syndicalist school-master named francesc ferrer, who had not been in barcelona during the time of the riots. nevertheless he was arrested and, after a perfunctory show trial, executed -- thus supplying the anarcho-syndicalists with a martyr whose name would be brandished right up to, and through, the spanish civil war.

exerpted from barcelona by robert hughes

the world : europe : spain