By Chris Marsden:
Spanish air traffic controller: “We are living now like under Franco”
7 December 2010
A number of Spanish air traffic controllers contacted the World Socialist Web Site to describe the state terror employed against them under the emergency measures imposed by the Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government.
The controllers paralysed Spain’s airports Friday by calling in sick en masse. Earlier that day, the government approved legislation opening the way to the partial privatisation of the aviation authority, AENA, along with the management of individual airports by private operators. The law included a further lengthening of the working hours of air traffic controllers.
In taking action, the controllers were also taking a stand against the wider austerity measures of the government. The scenes resulting from the government’s military strikebreaking operation were chilling.
One air traffic controller told the WSWS by email Saturday that the workers felt they had to act since they had already exceeded the 1,670 hours they are now legally obliged to work and were being told to do still more.
He continued, “The Control Centres are now under military orders. For the moment there is civilian staff working, just for minimum services, but we don’t know until when. We are living now like under Franco, Pinochet, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or any other dictator.”
Describing his immediate circumstances, he wrote, “We are all now in a hotel under police protection for our safety, waiting for AENA to come here with the military police to take us back to our work centres or to jail.”
Later, he sent another email, after being forced back to work under armed police guard. Stating, “We don’t have the same rights as any other free country, because we are not free,” he continued.
In the Spanish constitution the role of the army is described by article 8: “to guarantee the sovereignty and independence of Spain, to defend its territorial integrity and the constitutional order’. I always thought that if the Spanish army were to be deployed inside the country, it would be for defending the sacrosanct “territorial unity” – the threat of nationalist secession, in other words. But surprise, surprise, none other than the socialist government invokes this law for the very first time since it was approved, by militarizing the airspace and decreeing a “state of alarm”. All of this with the invaluable help of the mass media, of course: here.
Spain’s air traffic controllers targeted for escalating state repression: here.
UPDATE January 2011: here.
FOUR Guardia Civil officers accused of torturing the terrorists who blew up Madrid airport’s car park four years ago have been sentenced to jail: here.