The Struggle of the Asturian Miners

The day before yesterday (June 6) the Spanish Civil Guard was decisively repulsed and driven back into Ciñera de Gordon, a small town about halfway between Oviedo and Leon. They had arrived in force on Tuesday to clear a roadblock on highway N-630 near the village wedged between the mountains of Asturias, between Oviedo and Leon. But they did not have to wait long for a response from the miners. Taking up their shields once again and supported by the inhabitants of the village, they launched an assault on the Civil Guard which was driven from the town centre. After a heavy crackdown, with mad chases through residential areas and in the surrounding countryside, a veritable manhunt, the bourgeois forces of order finally decided to leave because of the resistance on all sides from, both the motorway to the edges of the town. Their flight was celebrated with a long applause from the local population who thus expressed solidarity with this group of miners, proletarians in struggle.

The great strength of these workers, compared to the almost total inaction of the Spanish proletariat is not, however, surprising. These workers are the last exponents of a long and ancient tradition of class struggle whose highest expression occurred in 1934, a date, which, albeit briefly, shook the pillars of Iberian capitalism. The key event in Asturias, it should be remembered, exploded at dawn on October 5, 1934. Here, the more conscious proletariat, represented by the miners (some highly unionised) rebelled against the government formed in Madrid, but the revolt was not just against certain political forces, it was against the capitalist system itself, so much so that in the short-lived Asturian experience tried to give life to a new economic and social organization. It was an experience that, unfortunately, and inevitably, had no real follow-up, and ended by suffering severe repression. [For more on this see the CWO pamphlet on the Spanish Civil War].

But back to the facts. In recent weeks, workers in coal mines and other areas targeted by draconian cuts by the Rajoy government (part of the austerity plan by the capitalist administration) went on strike, organized local demonstrations and road blocks. Some of them occupied pits, clashing with police and with the already mentioned Civil Guard. Thousands of miners are in this struggle that is deeply opposed to the cuts made by the government, cuts that put an end to tens of thousands of jobs and condemn entire provinces of northern Spain to economic desertification. Served until exploited and then thrown in the trash. And in response last Saturday in ten thousand had descended on Madrid, bringing with them a very significant banner: "We're not outraged, we’re just pissed off", obviously referring to the Spanish democratic movement 15M. The welcome they received in the capital? Arrests, beatings and rubber bullets that fell like rain.


But the miners were not intimidated. Having realized the futility of "politically correct" events (the Partido Popular did not want to listen to reason and decided to stick to the contingency plan), the fight has intensified: with an indefinite wildcat general strike, roadblocks on the main roads and highways of Asturias, the combative autonomous region on the Atlantic Ocean in the north of the country. They started as a series of wildcat blockades of train tracks, roads and state highways in several places, a technique with "hit and run" that is putting a strain on the so-called forces of law and order. The latest clash occurred on the highway N-630, where the miners have gained a victory over the bourgeois forces of repression with the support of citizens of the village of Ciñera de Gordon.

In the face of this "rebellion" the silence of the mass media, is nothing short of deafening. But this is not surprising. In these years of crisis there have been many outbreaks of proletarian revolt, though fragile and without a clear political direction. This is true particularly for certain regions of the Spanish state so that if the miners' protest increases, it is likely to cause a massive domino effect. This inevitable domino effect. however, has not exactly got a clear-cut policy direction, and without a revolutionary party, it would not be synonymous with all-out victory. Indeed, history teaches us that without political leadership the struggle would lose its coherence and would fall into the most vicious bourgeois repression, as unfortunately happened in the events of 1934.

MR, Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012


All hail "the pissed off" and I hope the longed for domino effect, through which all workers are inspired to take up the revolutionary solution, and start working towards it, gets going soon. But, as you say, we need the party. Is the ICT actually engaged in doing anything towards getting the party together?