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Throughout the past few weeks coal miners in northern Spain have been on strike demanding a halt to austerity measures imposed by the right wing government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The cuts are targeting subsidies for Spanish coal which miners say will destroy their entire industry effecting 8,000 workers in over 40 operational deep mines. With over 40,000 jobs lost from the Spanish coal industry in only 2 decades, further austerity is likely to seal the coffin for miners and the struggling rural communities of northern Spain.

Striking miners have held mass demonstrations in the Spanish capital Madrid, as well as shutting down motorways in the north, resulting in pitch battles with police reminiscent of the UK miner’s strikes against Thatcher’s conservative government.The parallels are very real between the two struggles. In both cases the natural downturns of capitalist economies are being used to break any remaining opponents to neoliberal economic policies (then imposed by Thatcher and now by the Iternational Monetary Fund (IMF) via the EU). The austerity imposed both here and elsewhere (of which we have only experienced 10% of the cuts to come) is a product of capitalism and is a tool of this system to consolidate wealth and power into the hands of the few.

Interestingly, another parallel which events closely mirror is that of Spain in 1934 . At this time, Spanish miners were loosing their hard fought rights won with the downfall of monarchy in 1931. The openly fascist-friendly party in government at the time (CEDA) was gaining power and the Spanish miners and much of the Spanish left were fearful of the same mass inaction which had enabled the Nazi party and other fascist groups to rise in Europe. In Asturias (the same area of northern Spain as the present uprisings) and other parts of Spain, miners and workers formed militias and took control of large territories in the north. For two weeks the areas remained liberated but the government was determined to regain control and break the movement. With brutal force the military retook the area, bombing its own people and killing some 2,000 Spanish workers.

It is thought that these events are what led to the Spanish Revolution in 1936 and then the subsequent war against fascism. As austerity bites and more jobs and services are lost, we would do well to look at the Spanish miners (past and present) and show solidarity with their cause. The resistance to austerity has to become a struggle against capitalism and the social injustice, environmental collapse and hopelessness it represents. “One solution: REVOLUTION!”

For more info see: here


3 Responses to “Revolution as Self Defense: Spanish Coal Miners Fight Back!”

  1. 1 daviddouglass

    I dont understand, since you hate coal mining and coal miners so much I would have thought you supported the Spanish government closing mines just as Thatcher did here, you would hardly support our demands to keep mines open and expand coal production which is what we demanded and they are demanding

  2. 2 admin

    I will try not to ramble my response to this… it all depends on context. I am not against coal mining (full stop). I am against opencast coal mining and the current manifestation of the coal industry (globalised, massively industrialised and totally unsustainable).
    I am certainly not against coal miners. I have massive respect for the historical and contemporary struggles of miners and even if I do not believe that coal is a sustainable fuel, I believe that is because we now live in a totally insane society/culture/economic system which is itself unsustainable.
    At the present, coal mining only really serves the interests of the rich and those in power. It does not serve the majority of people, including most coal miners themselves who end up with very little to show for their sacrificed health and hard work.
    If coal were mined in a way that benefited workers and communities, in a society which was working towards equality, redistribution of wealth and a shift away from fossil fuels towards decentralised and renewable forms of energy generation… then I believe there would be a temporary place for coal.
    Regarding the article; I think you misunderstand our politics if you believe that we would not have fought alongside miners in the 80’s and would not support the miners fighting now in Spain. These cuts and this whole austerity mentality imposed on Europe is a construct of the same system which oppresses everyone and everything under it. We should be united in our opposition to it, forming alliances and working together when and where the opportunities arise.
    We work against opencast coal in Scotland because it is here where the impacts of this system are already being felt and where despite strong community opposition, corruption and corporate power have continually allowed mine after mine to go ahead. Communities, such as those of the Douglas Valley gain little/nothing from the huge amounts of coal mined on their doorstep. They are instead, suffering ill health and deprivation as a direct result of the destruction of habitats and environments, so a small group of already rich people can get even richer and a brutal and blinkered system can maintain itself.
    Thanks for your comment. I think we need a lot more discussion around these issues and hopefully some solidarity can come from all these words. Cheers

  3. 3 daviddouglass

    OK its a bit backside foremost but I have now managed to read your responce to my brief letter on your solidarity with the Spanish miners struggle, That is clear and principled, it is in fact roughly the same position as the NUM which is also against open cast mining, and is against strip mining as it operates in the USA and as you say against the mining communities of those regions. The current struggles in coal mining areas of america against open cast are FOR coal mining but against open cast mines. Very few of the open cast sites which gain planning permission here could not be mined as small drift mines, which do very little surface damage and employ ten times more people for a far longer period.
    Its greed which motives them, your right about that. Strip mining in the USA is an assualt on mining communities. So if you make it clear you DO support the struggle of the Spanish miners to save the Spanish (deep mine) mining industry good we agree, I’m pleased you supported our identical struggle in the 80s and 90s and yes I did misunderstand your politics, because you never in my knowledge make any distinction about types of coal mining, you come over as against mining persae. Anyone reading your site would certainly get that impression. So OK, youve answered my question. But Your wrong about CCS and Clean Coal technology , my Colliery Hatfield Main, is builidng a clean coal power station due to be on line in 2014 which will remove 90% of CO2 and very nearly all other emissions, for CCS. It will though be the only one in Britain, because there is not the political will to build more. Applied to a world scale such technologies would vastly reduce the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere, so dont dismiss it, either coal will be burned ‘cleanly’ in this fashion, or dirty the way it is now, the NUM has since ww2 campaigned for clean coal technologies and still does, sadly many of our erstwhile comrades on the left have now pinned their faith in nuclear energy, and against coal.
    David Douglass NUM

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