‘No NATO’: Thousands March in Madrid Protesting The Military Alliance

NATO Madrid Protest

Thousands of people marched in Madrid on Sunday to protest the NATO summit.

A Reuters report said:

Carrying the hammer and sickle flags, thousands protested in Madrid against a NATO summit in the Spanish capital next week.

Amid tight security, the NATO leaders will meet in Madrid between 29-30 June.

“Tanks yes, but of beer with tapas,” sang demonstrators, who claimed an increase in defence spending in Europe urged by NATO was a threat to peace.

“I am fed up (with) this business of arms and killing people. The solution they propose is more arms and wars and we always pay for it. So, no NATO, no (army) bases, let the Americans go and leave us alone without wars and weapons,” said Concha Hoyos, a retired Madrid resident, told Reuters.

Another protester, Jaled, 29, said NATO was not the solution to the war in Ukraine.

Organizers claimed 5,000 people joined the march, but authorities in Madrid put the number at 2,200.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday that the summit would also focus on the threat from Europe’s southern flank in Africa, in which he said Russia posed a threat to Europe.

“The foreign ministers’ dinner on the 29th will be centered on the southern flank,” he told El Pais newspaper.

Other media reports said:

Carrying modern-day Spanish flags, banners of the old Spanish Republic and flags identifying a range of Leftist forces, including the Party of Labour, the Communist Party, the United Left, the social democratic Unidas Podemos and the Solidaridad Obrera union, 10 thousand demonstrators chanted ‘No NATO’ and ‘NATO Bases – Out’ as they marched along Paseo del Prado Boulevard.

The protesters were joined by allies from other countries, including a group from the Communist Party of Greece, and South Koreans carrying banners reading “Disband NATO, a vehicle of imperialist war!” and “Oppose South Korea Joining NATO!”

Activists reported a heavy police presence on the scene, including checkpoints at the entrances to subway stations, and accused law enforcement of seeking to intimidate them.

Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles dismissed the protesters, calling them a “clear minority” and suggesting that “peace is not in their heritage.”

Robles highlighted Madrid’s role as an intermediary in the upcoming summit to soothe disagreements between Turkey and NATO hopefuls Finland and Sweden over their hosting of the PKK, a Turkish Kurdish party and paramilitary group which Ankara characterizes as a “terrorist” group. Ankara has threatened to block the Nordic nations’ membership bids unless the “terrorist” threat is dealt with.

The summit will include an announcement on “new force posture commitments to strengthen NATO defense and deterrence posture,” including a new “strategic concept” to “address challenges” to bloc security supposedly coming from Russia and China. The summit is also expected to include a virtual appearance by president Zelensky to ask the West for more support.

The new strategic concept is “gonna have strong China language,” and that the new document will be “a significant improvement or change from 2010 when China was not mentioned and Russia I think was called a strategic partner or something.”

The parade along the Paseo del Prado, passing by the fountain and the Cibeles palace, took the Gran Vía in a march in which emblematic songs such as El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido, by the Chilean Víctor Jara, and La Muralla, based on the verses of the Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén, stood out.

The demonstrators’ posters and statements were dominated by slogans in favor of peace, repudiation of wars and invasions, interference in the internal affairs of nations through the use of military force and disrespect for the sovereignty of peoples by NATO, as well as harsh criticism of the EU.

Madrid Counter-summit For Peace

In the Final Declaration of the Madrid counter-summit, the participants from various countries indicated that “NATO 360º has become a threat to peace, an obstacle to progress towards shared and demilitarized security”.

They considered that the NATO turns its back on the real problems of the planet, namely hunger, disease, inequality, unemployment, lack of public services, land and wealth grabbing, and the climate crisis.

The alternative summit, for Peace, against NATO and against wars, underlines the obligation as a human species, to build and defend peace 360º, from north to south, from east to west. This implies renouncing militarism as a way of dealing with conflicts, said the declaration of the meeting.

The Sao Paulo Forum, the Women’s International Democratic Federation, Ecologists in Action, Pacifists Foundation, Not To War, Not To NATO, Plataforma Madrid and peace organizations from France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Italy, among others, emphasized the need to maintain the protests and not allow NATO to dictate the future.

Protests In Munich During G7 Summit

On Sunday, as the three-day G7 summit opened amid protests thousands of people took to the streets in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, in Germany.

The protesters demanded that the G7 countries fulfill their responsibilities and become more active in tackling climate change and global hunger, among other issues.

Activist Brigitte Obermayer said that the world’s problems cannot be solved by G7 countries alone and can only be truly solved through platforms such as the United Nations.

Another protester Marco, member of youth organization SDAJ, criticized the G7 for only caring about its own interests, adding that the summit is held only to consider and discuss issues related to the interests of its members and related interest groups.

Theresienwiese, the heart of the protest in Munich, was filled with protesters from many parts of Europe, waving banners and posters and singing protest slogans. A total of 15 organizations took part in the day’s activities.

A large police presence was seen at the sites of protests. Around 18,000 police officers have been deployed around Munich and the summit site. A design in which a distorted Earth is embedded in the letter G stands out in the posters. An NGO said that it was intended to convey the message that “the world is becoming increasingly distorted and dysfunctional due to the intervention of the G7 countries.”

Viviane Raddatz, head of climate and energy division at WWF Germany, said that she was “certainly not satisfied” with the work done so far by the G7 countries in terms of climate protection. Raddatz said that as “old industrialized countries with a long history of emissions are responsible for causing the climate crisis and therefore have a responsibility to find solutions that apply worldwide.”

Friederike Meister, Germany Director of Global Citizen, an organization working against extreme poverty, said that “the world’s major crises are worsening, but the money from rich countries to help recover economically does not reflect that.”

“The G7 must now prioritize investment in the world’s poorest countries,” said Meister, adding “The G7 are carrying around this decades-old promise without really implementing it.”

Lisa Gaetner, a local resident, complained about the current high prices and inflation, saying that “ordinary people have less and less money.” The G7 countries should reduce their military spending and increase their efforts to combat climate change, she said.

Police and rally organizers tallied the number of protesters between 4,000 and 6,000, according to German media.

Munich police said that about 20,000 people had registered their participation before the rally but only 4,000 showed up, as of the afternoon, while the organizers said there were 6,000, the Welt daily reported, while expecting that the number will grow in the course of the event.

The rally is led by climate groups demanding that world leaders put more effort into abandoning fossil fuels, preserving biodiversity, promoting social justice and fighting hunger. Fifteen large organizations have confirmed their participation, including World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and FridaysForFuture.

G7 held a summit in the Bavarian castle of Schloss Elmau from Sunday to Tuesday.


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