MADRID — In the late afternoon on the 23th of January, IE Student Alejandro Erco Gamarra spotted a large gathering of people holding signs and chanting at Jardines del Descubrimiento right off of Calle de Goya. Gamarra abandoned his car to head for the protest to further investigate. Signs read, in English translation, “Spain, wake up!” and “Fake Pandemic.” Almost everyone was unmasked, not socially distanced, in protest against Covid-19 restriction and mask mandates. We later joined Gamarra to interview protesters and cover the scene.
The protest seems to be in response to the recent tightened restrictions in Madrid, and Spain at large. In wake of the increased cases of Covid-19, the Community of Madrid has implemented new restrictions in order to mitigate the spread of the virus and minimize deaths. On Monday, January 25 new curfews will be pushed to 10pm and all businesses must be closed by 9pm. These regulations came as cases climb, but deaths remain more or less steady.
Protestors gathered for various reasons related to the restrictions. Some cited fears of a worsening economy and at-risk businesses, others claim violations of constitutional rights, and some do not believe in a pandemic at all. The protest shows an increased politicization of Covid-19 in Spain and Europe, as well as backlash against increased regulation due to the pandemic.
In between the music and speeches, the team managed to interview several of the protesters. Ranging in casual onlookers, anti-maskers, police representatives, organizers, and even the Seres Humanos Galacticos (Galactic Human Beings). The protest remained peaceful throughout the evening.
A group of four protestors, self proclaimed representatives of El Pueblo por la Verdad, Units per la Veritat, Denuncia Colectiva de Cataluna, and Soberania y Salud drove in car, on buses, and other means from Catalonia in order to appear at the protest. It appears that several of the attendants had travelled in order to meet at the capital. All four spoke out against the international handling of the pandemic, citing common conspiratorial arguments that are circulating in the internet.
Speaking to one protester, they claimed that the pandemic was fake and that they want to see Covid-19 restrictions lifted. The same protester added that he wished to see a version of former US President Donald Trump come to power in Spain. A nearby protester was draped with the American flag, chanting “make America great again!” Their exclamations were said with a particular nonchalance yet enthusiasm.
A nearby woman carried a sign saying “medicos sicarios,” suggesting that doctors and nurses are deliberately killing Covid patients. She told us that Elon Musk will use the vaccine to implant “nanochips” into the mass population in order to control our brains. Other protestors told our reporters that lying to people about the virus and allowing lockdowns is deliberate murder.
Sonia Bescobachi, the representative of Policia por la Libertad, a group of police officers who are against lockdown measures and mask mandates, was also present. She expressed frustration with what she called a “dictatorship” in Spain that has “taken away people’s freedoms.” When asked how she and her organization of police officers got involved supporting the protest, she vaguely explained that she was “contacted by phone.”
Written by Wesley Swan and Francia Morales. Contributions by Alejandro Erco Gamarra.