segunda-feira, 30 de abril de 2012

On demonstrations

29th March, Barcelona
When travelling around, I really try to blend into whatever country's I am in's culture. That means that, should I know of a demonstration or a strike that is coming up, I try to gather information about it and then join it. One actually learns a lot about what is going on in the country, what are people's concerns and so on.

The thing is, demonstrations in Portugal tend to be, as I came to realize, not only pacific, but also cheerful. We scream and criticize - but we do also sing and dance. We also have absolutely no tendency to destroying governmental buildings or state possessions.

In Barcelona, that's quite not the case. I went to the demonstration on the 29th of March and I saw garbage bins being set on fire, bank windows broken, and massive amounts of police and firemen arriving to put an end on all of it. It was somewhat scary, to be entirely honest.

I think us Portuguese got too used to having pacific revolutions - with carnations, no causalities, and so on, and I must admit I was in shock with the amount of aggressiveness I experienced there.

I am not going to express my opinion on state, police, or demonstration matters. My sole purpose is just to point out how strikingly different something can be between bordering countries. And the truth is, I love learning about different ways of handling things, and cultural differences in general.

And then, I was commenting this with my friend Filipa, who lives in Germany, and she said:

"I have also noticed it: Around here fighting for anything's rights is also no piece of cake. For instance, at one point they were against sending nuclear waste to Siberia - and therefore decided to place CONCRETE around their ARMS and the RAILROAD to make sure the train won't pass. Because if it does, they will get amputated.

The police then has to come with a special intervention brigade, taking a whole day to release all the arms and legs that are stuck onto the railway. That buys the demonstrators some extra time to think of following actions."

I must admit my simple Portuguese mind was blown by the simple fact that anyone ever even thought of this - let alone adopting that as a common practice.

See you soon.
- Teresa Lima

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