On Saturday May 23rd, 2020 more people than expected by the organizers joined the “freedom caravan” in Spain to express on two and four wheels their anger against the government formed by Socialists and Communists. Waving national flags and blowing horns, thousands of cars, motorcycles and even tractors caused traffic yams in Madrid and other provincial capitals like Granada, Malaga, Seville, Valencia, Valladolid and Zaragoza.
Protected by police, drivers expressed their profound indignation about the catastrophic consequences for medical care and the economy.
It was the first demonstration of this type against what participants and supporters call the “criminal” handling of the current pandemic and especially the estate of alarm, recently extended for a fifth time. For two of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, Castile and Leon as well as Catalonia, permission by the Constitutional Tribunal was granted in the last moment.
It was coordinated by Vox, a conservative party founded in 2014, which in the last two years has gained a foothold in most of the nation. Its leader Santiago Abascal and other relevant party figures headed the caravan in the capital in a convertible double-decker with the slogan “Government resignation” written on it. He asked all attendees, guided by common sense and respecting sanitary regulations, “to protect the country against those who want it torn to pieces, poor or imprisoned”.
Visibly moved, Abascal called the “festive revolt” a reaction by “brave, generous, civic and responsible” people against the world’s worst crisis management. He warned Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his coalition Iglesias not to ignore and despise the general public, making clear that: “We shouldn’t forget what they did to us” and that “There shall be no impunity for their crimes against the health, prosperity and liberty of all Spaniards”. He also emphasized that those who caused the problems will be taken to court by Vox, just like legal action was taken against those Catalonian separatists in 2017. Back then, the central government was just passive, while nowadays it is the threat itself. In a recent speech available on Youtube, Abascal had found the daily banging of pots and pans (“caceroladas”) to be highly successful, and asked all citizens to increase their street activities until the last corner.
Wearing a surgical mask like his fellow campaigners, Secretary General Francisco Javier Ortega Smith, who contracted the disease and had to spend time in hospital twice, stated that liberty was unstoppable and denounced the official disinformation about the coronavirus.
Vox hopes to become the driving force of the protest movement on the Right, as no representatives of center-right Partido Popular (PP) took part in any of the events. Hinting at a desired leading role, Rocío Monasterio, leader of the Madrid branch, said that possibly some PP voters did attend and therefore Vox could be their voice in parliament. At the same time, she pointed out that those who defended liberty today came from all parties.
Critics complained about the noise and fumes from vehicles, which at a point were basically trapped and had to be deviated. While being unable to move forward, several persons didn’t keep their car windows closed or their hands inside or the demanded security distance of two meters. There were seen chatting, taking pictures together or venting their anger. Some of those who spontaneously joined by foot also seemed to lack discipline, but there were no incidents worth reporting.
Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, the parliamentary group’s spokesman, voiced the desperation of so many about so much ineptitude. Still, he remained optimistic: “There is no evil that lasts 100 years”. Let’s hope that the originators of the disaster that is going to haunt Spain for years, if not decades, will indeed be history soon.