One minute past midnight, 20 June in Seville, and we were witnessing something strange. Some 200 young activists were marching round the packed old town waving red and black flags, chanting that the general strike had started, and demanding the bars close. Many landlords obeyed, shutters slammed down, and drinkers went out onto the streets with a smile.
In the morning almost everything was shut. Most had stickers or posters proudly displayed in the window saying 'Closed for the general strike'. At 5am there were 50 pickets at our local bus garage, barricading the entrance. By 7am there were 300 pickets outside the main Seville hospital. The streets were littered with strike leaflets. By midday strikers and supporters were gathering for the strike demonstation.
This was a celebration of resistance. Everywhere there was anti-government chanting. As one striker said, 'This isn't only about workers' rights--the problem is this government supports business against the whole people.'
The next 48 hours was a whirlwind of meetings, protests, street stunts and fevered political debate. The university was taken over by the Seville Social Forum, which organised packed forums on militarism, fighting the far right and privatisation.
The spirit of anti-capitalism infected the whole city. Over 100,000 people assembled for the final demonstration on Saturday night and the mood was captured by the simple chant, 'Anti-capitalista! Anti-capitalista!'
These are historic events. The general strike created the biggest mobilisations in Spain since the fascists were brought down in the mid-1970s. Over half a million marched in Barcelona.
At the same time the rebirth of resistance is throwing up big questions, and relatively small groups of revolutionaries on the demonstrations made a very big impact. As a local Andalucian paper said, 'This is a movement on the rise.'