Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / November 12, 2016.
Thousands of people demonstrated Madrid today to ask the Spanish government for a “clear and firm” stance against Morocco’s abuses and against the illegal occupation of Western Sahara. They also demanded the government to reconcile with the Saharawi people. A massive protest, convened by the State Coordination of Solidarity Associations with the Sahara, marched from Glorieta de Atocha to Puerta del Sol (Madrid) for two hours to denounce the human rights violations that Morocco perpetrates in Sahrawi territory.
Organizers found it difficult to maintain order throughout the march and in fact the head banner of the protest had to remain almost in the middle of it because at some points along the route Moroccan flags were burnt and there were even small altercations between the protesters. The general coordinator of the United Left, Cayo Lara, the General Secretaries of the The Workers’ Commissions (CCOO) and the General Union of Workers (UGT) —Ignacio Fernández Toxo and Cándido Méndez, respectively—; the Vice Minister of Communication of the Popular Party (PP), Esteban González Pons; the Head of the Union, Progress and Democracy party(UpyD), Rosa Díez and actors Pilar and Javier Bardem and Rosa María Sardá, were carrying banners with the slogan “Ater 35 Years, Morocco: Out of Sahara”.
Socialists also attended the act, including the major of San Sebastián, Odón Elorza, and the former Secretary of the CC.OO. and current Deputy Antonio Gutiérrez (PSOE). Other film stars, such as Eduardo Noriega, Alberto Sanjuán, Guillermo Toledo also joined the protest.
A day before the 35th anniversary of Morocco’s “Green March” on the Sahara, the organizers wanted to culminate in this demonstration a week of demonstrations in protest of the Events of El Ayoun. “Morocco is guilty and Spain is responsible”,”If this is not solved: war, war”, “Zapatero, traitor” or “Free Sahara” were some of the slogans chanted by demonstrators, most of whom were carrying Western Sahara flags.
Two hours after the beginning, the head of the march arrived at Puerta del Sol, where Javier Bardem and Rosa María Sardá read a manifesto demanding the Spanish Government to firm and clear attitude and the “immediate cessation” of the sale of material war against Morocco.
Organizers believe that Spain, despite “having unilaterally abandoned its responsibilities”, is still the power responsible for Western Sahara’s destiny.
Therefore, as Javier Bardem expressed, protesters demanded the Executive to ensure the integrity of the Spaniards who are there acting as observers and to assume their responsibilities with the Spaniards of Saharawi ascent. In addition to that, they called on the UN and the European Union to make an “urgent intervention” to prevent the “massacre” of the Saharawi people and to “comply with international legality and hold a referendum on self-determination” in the Sahara.
Before the reading of the manifesto, the Secretary General of the UGT, Cándido Méndez, expressed his rejection to “the violence, death and elimination of the freedom of information” that Morocco is responsible for.
Méndez has called the regrettable “the government’s pragmatism and defensive attitude regarding this grave conflict” and denounced the “indifference” of the European Union to the “abuses” suffered by the Saharawi people. “The Spanish Government” he stressed, “must reconcile with the Saharawi people and with the Spanish people”. For his part, the leader of CCOO, Ignacio Fernández Toxo, criticized the Government for having abandoned the Saharawi people for 35 years and using the pretext that “national interests are the priority”. “When we’re facing a massacre, no cowardice and no interests can be stronger than Human Rights and the freedom of a people who want to decide their own destiny”.
Fernández Toxo cxoncluded by calling to not look away and speak up against the violation of Human Rights.