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"Hot disobedient May" for Spain
If the headline news is of Spain withdrawing troops from Iraq and Bush giving premier Zapatero the cold shoulder, practical Spanish cooperation with the US and NATO remains firm.
While anti-militarists announced a series of actions - “hot May” - at military installations throughout the country, the month began with defence minister Jose' Bono meeting his US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld, agreeing to send more Spanish troops to NATO's mission in Afghanistan, to offer training in Spain to Iraqi government forces, and to proceed with the expansion of the combined air and sea base at Rota near Cadiz - the US's main base of operations in the region.
“Hot disobedient May” is the rubric given by alternativa-antimilitarista.moc (aa.moc) to a range of events throughout Spain, most organised by local platforms of anti-militarists and ecologists.
The actions focused on the Nato Rapid Reaction HQ at Betera (Valencia), the aero-naval base at Rota (Cadiz), the exercise site of San Gregorio (Zaragoza), the Aitana radar base (Alicante), the firing range of Las Ba'rdenas (Navarra) and the chemical biological warfare factory at La Maraosa (Madrid).
In general these events had a playful character with touches of theatre. A pair of actions attempted to be “citizens' inspections” investigating the illegalities being carried out by the military, while others were more medical - offering an antidote to the “military virus”. Mostly they were linked with long-term campaigns, some of which have already gained the support (at least formally) of various local authorities.
By far the most numerous event was the 20th annual march to Rota on 8 May, one week after the Bono-Rumsfeld meeting. Initiated in the days of the anti-NATO campaign and headed by leaders of Izquierda Unida, these days the Rota march attracts fewer people - police estimated 2000.
Another anti-militarist activity in May probably has more participants but even less press coverage - the annual war tax resistance campaign. The “anti-war” government has actually increased the military proportion of the state budget to 11.64%. In the face of public ignorance and complacency, aa.moc is now debating how to give more clout to its campaign of objection to military spending.