Reactions To The 2004 Madrid Train Bombings

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)
Madrid 2,000,000
Barcelona 1,500,000
Valencia 700,000
Sevilla 650,000
Málaga 400,000
Vigo 400,000
Zaragoza 400,000
Murcia 300,000
Oviedo 300,000
Cádiz 300,000
Bilbao 300,000
Granada 250,000
Alicante 250,000
Santa Cruz de Tenerife 250,000
Valladolid 250,000
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 225,000
Córdoba 200,000
Corunna 200,000
Palma de Mallorca 140,000
Pamplona 125,000
Guadalajara 120,000?
Huelva 120,000
Jaén 120,000?
Almería 120,000
Salamanca 100,000
Santiago de Compostela 100,000
Castellón 100,000
Albacete 100,000
Logroño 100,000
León 100,000
Burgos 100,000
Vitoria 90,000
Santander 85,000
Badajoz 80,000
Ferrol 80,000
Orense 80,000
Pontevedra 75,000
Ciudad Real 70,000
Girona 58,000
Cáceres 50,000
Cartagena 50,000
Lugo 50,000
Alcalá de Henares 45,000
Ibiza 42,000
Tarragona 40,000
Lleida 40,000
Segovia 40,000
Zamora 40,000
Ceuta 35,000
Melilla 30,000
Cuenca 30,000
Lorca 25,000
Toledo 25,000
Talavera de la Reina 25,000
Palencia 25,000
Mérida 20,000
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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... Sympathy poured in from governments worldwide immediately following the bombings, led by Spain's partners in the European Union ... raised its terror alert level, and Athens' security was tightened at train stations and the Spanish Embassy ... Pope John Paul II condemned the bombings in a message to Catholic leaders in Spain ...

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