Reactions To The 2004 Madrid Train Bombings
On 12 March 2004, Spaniards took to the streets protesting against the bombings in a government-organized demonstration to condemn ETA, which at the time was being blamed for the attacks. Vigo, which has a population of 300,000 inhabitants, saw 400,000 demonstrators on its streets. The protests were peaceful, including members of the leading political parties marching together down Madrid's Paseo de Castellana in solidarity against terrorism. More than two million people convened on Madrid's streets screaming: "Not everyone is here, 191 are missing, we will never forget you." There were also people wondering "Who did it?" in reference to the "lack of information provided by the government."
Total: 11,400,000 demonstrators
(28% of Spanish population)
|Santa Cruz de Tenerife||250,000|
|Las Palmas de Gran Canaria||225,000|
|Palma de Mallorca||140,000|
|Santiago de Compostela||100,000|
|Alcalá de Henares||45,000|
|Talavera de la Reina||25,000|
|Medina del Campo||15,000|
The following day, three Moroccans and two Indians were arrested, with a number of clues—such as a cassette tape with verses of the Koran in a white Renault Kangoo van in Alcalá de Henares—that pointed to al-Qaeda, or at least an Islamist involvement.
Again the people of Madrid took to the streets, mainly congregating in the Puerta del Sol plaza, where there are a number of government buildings. This time the mood was not so peaceful. The crowd on Puerta del Sol chanted and bashed bottles and dustbin lids in a demonstration of anger towards Aznar. Meanwhile, people gathered in unofficial demonstrations in front of PP (Partido Popular) offices in all the major cities in Spain.
The demonstrations of the 13 March were allegedly invoked via spontaneous cell phone messages ending in the phrase "pásalo" (pass it on). The candidate of the governing conservative party, Mariano Rajoy, complained on television about the demonstrations and demanded that the opposition parties condemn them. On behalf of the Socialist party, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba gave a message saying that "the Spanish people do not deserve a government that lies to them" and that they had neither organized nor supported the demonstrations. According to Spanish electoral law, party-political demonstrations are illegal the day leading up to the election.
Rumours circulated afterwards, and were propagated by film director Pedro Almodóvar, that the government had approached King Juan Carlos and asked him to postpone voting, which the King responded would constitute a coup d'état. Days later, the PP threatened to sue Almodóvar for his comments.
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