Spain: Working Class Fights Back Against Selective Pandemic Lockdown in Madrid

By David Martinez

Since late September, working class residents of Madrid have fought back against selective coronavirus restrictions that the government is only implementing in poor neighborhoods while allowing wealthy areas to operate without oversight.

Chanting, “It’s not lockdown, it’s segregation!” and holding banners with slogans such as “They don’t confine the rich,” the residents have protested in the streets in massive numbers and at times fought the police sent in to enforce the targeted lockdown.

Since September 21, a partial lockdown was implemented in Madrid as another wave of coronavirus cases surged in Spain, but the government has focused the restrictions on working class neighborhoods such as Puente de Vallecas in the southern part of the city.

The president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, blamed the ‘way of life’ of migrants for the higher rates of infections among working class people. This is nothing more than a justification for targeting the neighborhoods, particularly since immigrants make up a large portion of the workers in Spain. Diaz Ayuso’s chauvinistic comments have been the focus of residents’ outrage who have called for her resignation.

A retired nurse living in Vallecas said, “It’s not our way of life which causes a high rate of Covid19 infection, it’s our living conditions. We are a working class quarter but public services turn their back on us [for] years.” One sign at a protest read, “You’ve abandoned us and now you confine us.”

850,000 residents of Madrid’s poorer districts are facing the lockdown, only allowed to leave their homes for work, school, or doctor’s visits, even as they are the primary providers of labor and services to keep Spanish society running. Around the world, the working class and poor bear the brunt of the coronavirus, not because of their so-called ‘way of life’ but because of the inherent economic inequality imposed by imperialism.

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