More than a month on hunger strike to change Spain’s social wrongs


In an article for La Huella Digital, Ainara Pérez Muñoz shines a light on the ongoing hunger strike taking place in Madrid.  Translated and edited by Oscar Güell, the piece highlights growing dissatisfaction with the persistent social and political problems currently afflicting Spain.

PUERTA DEL SOL, THE MAIN square of Madrid, has again become a hot spot of social struggle in Spain. If during the spring of 2011 it was the main campout of the protests of 15M movement, nowadays it is the place of Jorge Arzuaga’s hunger strike.

This young civil engineer from Bilbao decided to stop eating on 12 October, in order to force the resignation of the Spanish government because they “have violated their election programme”.

Speaking to student publication La Huella Digital, Jorge said that his strike “is a desperate plea to society to say: enough already!” In fact, he seeks to prompt a reaction against the social and political crisis facing Spain. “Although I have set the objective of demanding the resignation of the Government, my true intention is that people leave theirfear behind”, explained during his first days of fasting.

Jorge has now gone more than a month without eating, but the support he has received since the first day has helped him to continue with the strike. In fact, four more citizens have joined him: Alex has been in fasting 34 days, Gisela for 35 days and Frank for 20, while another protester called Alex has just ended his strike after 38 days without food.

Credit: La Huella Digital

Along with Jorge, they organize daily assemblies to expose their motives for being in Puerta del Sol. They arrive at the square every morning around half past ten and remain there until nine in the evening before returning home to sleep. Around them they always have banners reinforcing their claims, messages of support and bottles of water and energy drinks cans – their only sustenance during these days.

“We are demanding a change to the situation we are living through in Spain. They are cutting our rights, we are being trampled and they are laughing at us”, they explained one day at an assembly of twenty people interested in Jorge’s proposal.

Unemployment, housing, precariousness, corruption and the disappearance of public health service and public education are their main worries.

Jorge considers that his generation is living a moment in which “we don’t have any future, there isn’t work, and more than fifty percent of us don’t have work. Lots of us are well-trained but we don’t have options to develop our careers, we don’t have any future in this country”. In this situation Jorge thought that he had to do something because he considers it a dishonour to “stand still when you see that they have eaten your bread”.

However, when he talks about how much time he is going to maintain his hunger strike he confesses that he will only continue for as long as his health will allow him. For the moment, the doctors that check him every morning say that his life is not in danger, but he has lost weight and he recognizes that his strength begins to falter. Therefore, he doesn’t know how many more days he will resist.

From the square they also complain about the misinformation surrounding their actions because the mass media are not reporting them.

“They tell people what they want them to think”, the strikers explained of what they consider a case of media manipulation. Until a couple of days ago, social networks and alternative media had been their only channels to transmit their actions. But their message is not only words. They are also collecting food to give to needy families because they “truly are required to be on hunger strike”.

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Edited and translated: Oscar Güell

Original article: Ainara Pérez Muñoz  in La Huella Digital


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