Errekaleor Free District: A Year of Solidarity

  • A year has gone by since Iberdrola electric company and the Basque Government cut the power on the Errekaleor district of Gasteiz. The project then became known to many people, and there was a huge wave of solidarity. Amongst other things, they collected € 10,000 to create their own energy system and now, one year later, they want to thank everybody who took part in the fund-raising on May 20th, which they are calling 100 mila esker ("A Hundred Thousand Thanks") Day.

Hala Bedi @halabedi
2018ko maiatzaren 21a

May 18th, 2017. At ten in the morning the Basque Autonomous Police (Ertzaintza) arrived in Errekaleor, along with six Iberdrola cars, to cut off the electricity supply. The order had come from the Basque Government's Industry Department: they had announced that the supply was not appropriate, and that they had taken the decision in order to protect local people.

The young people of Errekaleor decided to defend themselves, and they built a human wall to protect the electricity panels. The Basque Autonomous Police started to drive people away immediately, pulling them away and throwing them out using violence. The locals made this known on the social networks right away, and the officers threatened them about that too.

That may be a reasonable summary of what happened that day, but nobody could have expected the arrival of such a wide-reaching and enormous wave of support for the district.

Wave of Solidarity

Anger was the main emotion that day. There was a massive demonstration in the streets of Gasteiz, and two main players were denounced: Iberdrola and the Basque Government. The political parties in power in Gasteiz city council – EAJ (Basque right) and PSE (Spanish centre) – were not forgotten either. There have been conferences and well-known groups have played in the district (Izaki Gardenak, Willis Drummond, Anari…), motions in the city council, and a turning point: June 3rd.

On that day local people set an unprecedented form of organisation going, aiming to hold the biggest demonstration which Gasteiz had seen for a long time. They wanted a firm response.

And they got one. They called the campaign “Guk argi daukagu” ('We're sure about it'). On June 3rd around 10,000 people marched from Errekaleor to the centre of Gasteiz. At the finale, the organizers read a main manifesto: "If we have to, we'll burn the sky down so that we can live."

100 Thousand Thanks

At the end of the demonstration they announced that they were going to start a coopfunding campaign in order to raise € 100,000 and, with that, create the largest "energy island" in the Basque Country. They raised way more than that amount, although the project took them longer than they had anticipated:  "We are working on completing the design of the energy project and its budget, and it has to be multi-purpose and sustainable", the members of the Errekaleor Bizirik ('Errekaleor Alive') collective stated.

And the time has come to thank everybody who has taken part either individually or as part of an organization. On Sunday, May 20th a whole day will held in the district: initiatives, lunch, a 'thank you' mural, and visits to the solar energy installations, amongst other things.

"This new source of energy has led us to only consuming the energy we need, being economical with energy and we have opened the doors to the users' community. So we could not be more grateful for the gift of being able to have a more multi-functional and more sustainable way of living.

The district festivities will also be held soon, over the last weekend of May; exactly five years since some students occupied a block of flats in Errekaleor.

This article was translated by 11itzulpen; you can see the original in Basque here.

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Kanal hauetan artxibatua: English  |  Gasteiz  |  Errekaleor

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