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By Juanlu Sánchez / Translation: Blanca García

The Assembly chooses to prolong the camp in spite of the reluctance of several commissions

Sol sees itself as an international reference point and the camp’s problems are seen as secondary

This Sunday's general assembly has lasted about four hours. (Stéphane M. Grueso)

At five in the afternoon, few meters away from the Puerta del Sol, started a small but important assembly for M15: the spokespersons from the dozens of commissions that make up the Madrid movement got together to reach a consensus on a common posture about whether or not to take down the camp that has turned two weeks old this Sunday. This proposal would be taken at eight in the afternoon to the general assembly to debate over it.
At a quarter to eight the negotiations remained open, although an idea was assumed:  the camp is not sustainable and we have to look for an alternative way of continuation before some incident or a police break-up take away control of the situation from those who are camped.

Because, according to the camped themselves, risks and problems exist: security of the people and the facilities, health, image. And co-existence: “here some work and others enjoy”, a spokeswoman said. “There are people who only come here to camp and to eat for free who have nothing to do with the movement and that don’t show up in the commissions”, another one stated. For days, and this is something that has been approved in the general assembly, the camped ones are being asked to take down their tents during the day to make the work and the meetings easier, with little success. “The camp has given us a lot, but now it can start to weaken us”, another person said later.

The canvases and tents stand in the way of the increasingly massive assemblies (Juan Luis Sánchez)

Most of the commissions in this previous meeting agreed on the fact that “we have to stop sleeping here” and in keeping an area for the commissions’ activities, for reflexion and as an iconic reference. Someone with a phone in his hand interrupts the meeting: “we are being offered a barrack hut to set up on the square”.
But decisions in the M15 movement are taken by consensus, not by majority -which means that if just one person blocks any initiative, it has to be debated over until someone gives in- and the terms of the proposal have been toned down to a point in which the text looks more like a press release than a proposal:

“We are not leaving, the movement continues. We will restructure the camp because we are responsible. The work groups and commissions are still working in a public area. Today we are going to start the restructuring process. Each work group will start, from today, to work on a plan to suggest how that process has to be”.

(S. M. G.)

This text, which measures more as a press release than as a proposal, was too ambiguous for part of the assembly and would have to be clarified, re-read and revised several times, emphasizing the risk so that its meaning is clear. More or less this is the way it is: that they want to take down the camp now that they can so they can keep on having assemblies in this square and in the neighborhoods with no trouble; that they don’t have an exit date nor do they know exactly what is going to be left in the square, but that it should be started as soon as possible.

But one thing is the commissions’ working environment and their advice and another one is the collective atmosphere of the thousands of people that have attended the eight pm. assembly. People who see how thousands of protesters “have taken the Place de la Bastille”. How in Athens dozens of thousands are gathered. How Barcelona has “reconquered the Plaça de Catalunya”. How more than one hundred neighborhoods and towns in the Madrid region have held their assemblies this Saturday. Sol sees itself as an international reference and given the situation logistic and invisible risks are “local issues”, in the words of someone who took part in the assembly.

Among these “secondary” issues is also the risk of the police breaking up the camp. In a last gesture, the Legal issues commission has informed that the Police, with whom they are in regular contact with by command of the assembly, has told them that “from Tuesday on, they break up the dialogue with us”. The assembly has responded chanting “We are not afraid”.

So after a four-hour debate, the M15 movement has decided to keep camp, although holding the stay subject to security, health, and co-existence issues that the different commissions will have to evaluate starting tomorrow to determine whether or not they can be fixed. In the final phase of the session, they have tried to reach a consensus on when that assessment would be made in a new general assembly, but weariness and the need to finish at midnight in order not to bother the Sol neighbors have prevented them from fixing a deadline.

(S. M. G.)