from emotion to confrontation

“You can’t imagine how crowded Plaza Asdrúbal is,” said a woman on the phone. This neighbor of Cádiz lit up her eyes when she told the person on the other side of the great acceptance that the demonstration that took place in the city this Tuesday had had. “For a fair and dignified metal agreement” was the motto of the conveners, UGT and CCOO, but from the outset it was palpable that it was a heterodox group (families, seniors, students, workers), although united for the same cause . They met some 5,000 people according to the unions and half, according to police data. It was a cold morning but the sun accompanied the appointment.

Thousands of people in Cádiz support the metal workers in a march that ends with police charges

Thousands of people in Cádiz support the metal workers in a march that ends with police charges

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The day before, the celebration of the demonstration had been questioned because the unions were meeting in Seville, but from the same negotiating table it was clarified to the press after ten o’clock at night by the UGT that there would be a demonstration ” it will happen what have to happen”. There was no agreement (again) after the fourth meeting between employers and workers’ representatives, and the Plaza Asdrúbal at 11.00 in the morning was abuzz. At the starting point of this march, one could breathe the exhaustion of a group that feels mistreated by businessmen and politicians.

It would be 11:15 am (a little later than expected) when a march started that, at the beginning, was divided into several very different sections. The unions were at the front, followed by the liveliest group, the students, and there was a third section with workers from the auxiliary companies and also from companies in the area, such as Alestis, Airbus and Navantia. Political representatives were not lacking either, but they remained in the background because the leading role, this day, was not theirs.

“Violence is not making ends meet”

Ana de Viya Avenue was experiencing a special morning. You could see that there was a lot at stake and that is why there was no room for indifference. They weren’t just the ones on the march. Merchants, neighbors and onlookers applauded as the protesters passed and joined in the shouts of the most guerrilla fighters. “The people, united, will never be defeated”, “violence is not making ends meet”, “we are going to win this agreement”, “here are the metal workers” were some of the most chanted.

After a week in which the workers had made itinerant rallies around the city, in this case there was a special complicity with the rest of the citizens. It was not the first time that health workers or schoolboys applauded from the windows, but the feeling was of all going to one in a city accustomed to solidarity between workers. One of the most moving moments was lived when a group of nurses clapped fiercely from the main facade of the Puerta del Mar Hospital as the demonstration passed.

Plato and Al Carranza

It was being a calm morning and no incidents were guessed. But everything changed when the demonstration broke down. When the unions had taken another avenue in search of the headquarters of the Federation of Metal Companies of the province of Cádiz (FEMCA), it was relatively surprising to see that the rest followed another path. The anger of many workers in the Bay with UGT and CCOO for the way they managed the closure of the Airbus plant in Puerto Real was reflected in a sit-in in the middle of a demonstration.

But this sit-in had its risks. The objective now of the main body of the group was to cut the José León de Carranza bridge, the bridge by which Cádiz joins Puerto Real and a historic enclave of the protests of the Bahia shipyards. The objective of the protesters put the police device on alert. Some veteran workers alerted the group to the danger posed by the new route: “I ask that we go with our hands up because we can fall into provocations by the Police.” And so it was: the thousands of people at that point walked with their arms raised to remind the forces of order present that those were their only weapons.

The tension increased little by little because the police vans were waiting for the crowd at the height of the Ciudad de Cádiz swimming pool, the entrance to the city but without having yet reached the bridge. It was clear that this was going to be the point of confrontation if neither side gave in. And none yielded. The police device then began firing salvos and the shouts warning of the presence of minors among the protesters did not work. The attendees got nervous, some bottles blew up and the Police responded with rubber balls, tear gas, batons. People had to flee to the nearby streets and to the Victoria beach itself, where many remained on the sand with a feeling of fear in their bodies.

The confrontation lasted at least an hour and left five police officers injured, according to official sources. The number of injured among the protesters is still unknown. There was a detainee and many videos circulating on the networks and instant message groups in which they spoke of the sensation of the moment: that the forces of order were used with excessive force.

Around 1:00 p.m. there were still attempts to clash in Puerta Tierra, already in the Old Town, but the march that had begun with a spirit of solidarity ended with the uneasiness that “good intentions would end that way.”

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