Anti-NATO protests rock Spanish city

Antiwar demonstrators filled the streets of Seville, Spain, last weekend to protest plans by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to escalate the number of its troops in Afghanistan and Kosovo, the former province of Yugoslavia.

The demonstrations coincided with an informal summit of NATO’s defense ministers in Seville on Feb. 8-9, which followed an emergency meeting of the alliance’s foreign ministers in Brussels one week before. At the Brussels meeting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressured NATO-member countries to strengthen their military forces for possible deployment elsewhere.

The protests culminated on Feb. 11 with a citywide march that revealed the intensity of the people’s opposition to imperialist interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, to threats of new invasions, to foreign bases and to the NATO alliance itself. The marchers affirmed their solidarity with those peoples who are struggling against foreign domination.

A wide range of movements and organizations from Europe, the Middle East and Latin America participated in the actions, including representatives from the World Peace Council and the World Federation of Democratic Youth. Participants from Palestine, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Venezuela and Nicaragua were visibly present, among others, giving the events a distinctly international flair.

Activists and leaders of the Communist parties of Spain, Portugal, France, Italy (Refoundation), Bohemia-Moravia and Greece were also in Seville for the protests and took the opportunity to meet with each other. At the conclusion of their meeting, they issued a sharply worded denunciation of imperialist aggression and called for the world’s peoples to take a new road of peace and social progress.

Alluding to the two world wars, they said people should “not allow capitalism to lead the world to destruction as in the previous century — another world is possible, a socialist one.”

The communists called for the removal of all U.S. military bases from all foreign countries, a reduction in military spending, the prohibition and destruction of all weapons of mass destruction, the dissolution of NATO, and the creation of “a new idea of human security which will focus on the basic problems of humanity — hunger, poverty, inequality, disease and injustice.”

Among the topics discussed was the illusion that many hold about the European Union acting as a counterweight to the U.S. The communists stressed the reactionary and war-oriented character of the EU, which simply strives to compete with the U.S. for a bigger share of the world’s resources.

The role that the U.S. and European elite envision for the new military bases in Romania and Bulgaria, most probably to be used for strikes against Iran, was mentioned repeatedly, as was the increased militarization of the EU overall. It was also noted that the Bush administration’s pressure on the Czech Republic and Poland to install anti-missile bases continues, despite the protests against them.

NATO’s plans to establish a unified military force — a force that will be led by a centralized structure to counter member-nations’ qualms and that will include land, sea and air forces — remains a grave source of concern to a wide spectrum of political currents on the continent.

Laura Petricola (laurajopetricola @ yahoo.com) writes from Athens, Greece.