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Inicio arrow Explicar el mundo a partir de lo ocurrido arrow How to explain it to the world from what happened. Forum on Organizing Experiences Exchange after March, 11th

How to explain it to the world from what happened. Forum on Organizing Experiences Exchange after March, 11th

Venue:  Sede Antonio Machado. Palacio de Jabalquinto. Plaza de Santa Cruz s/n, Baeza (Jaén)
Date: 25th >> 26th March 2006
Participants: Citizen Network after 11 M [Red Ciudadana tras el 11M] and Memory Group and Justice for the Youngsters (“Paso”) [Grupo Memoria y Justicia por los Pibes (“Paso”)]




Although violence is spreading everywhere, day by day, being sometimes brutal and some other times subtle, it was on March the 11th, 2004 that it came closer to our own front door. The emptiness produced by that establishment led us to make such radical questions as "does the life we are living make any sense?" bringing down the individualism which usually social relations are made of and setting up huge solidarityfeeling networks and making the saying "all of us who were on that train" mean everything but a simple word.

The fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, husbands and spouses who lost their sons, daughters, brothers , partners; the people wounded, the persons affected... could feel that active hug from a society who did not look another way. Nevertheless, "normality" is insisting on making everyone of us hold on to his position. And what would the victims' position be?

People who have suffered any kind of violence, but especially the political violence, that one which is as a direct consequence of others' calculated decisions, from their profound emptiness, have to face the enormous task of coping with irreparable losses and give sense to absurdity, certainly, after a vital break-up, things will never be the same again, and the World demands an explanation, starting from scratch, of what happened. It is at that moment, again and again, the same old questions hammering insistently: why that?, why to me?

If one of the most constant vital concern is to give sense to every single life, how to give sense to pain and to suffering which, in themselves, are always absurd? What kind of world is that for those who suffer this way? How can life be spread over there?

Those questions give rise to many possible interpretations. Some of them will lead to setting up a victim's identity, something like a taint, which will turn out to be a centre of beliefs, feelings and social behaviours. Some others will fight to go beyond such a passive and taint identity in order to keep on being someone who, despite his suffering, did not become a fatality object and, therefore, was not vanquished.

Going across one or the other path is a personal extenuating journey. Victimization processes can be useful for some politicians to use them as a contusive weapon on the others; they can be used in order to retain their hegemony, or be lively arguments that justify such or such measures. But it will be done at the expense of binding the victims' fate to a severe suffering, condemning them to become dull and confused, using them and manipulating them interestingly; all in all, at the expense of condemning them to live in the dark. Certainly, one of the possible ways to give sense to suffering is to turn it into victimization, but, which social benefit could justify such a sacrifice?

Getting rid of victimization is not only a personal choice which can be more or less obtained from professionals and it is not something that can be done once for all. It is neither a matter of equitable sharing nor mere calculation proportions. Opportune environment conditions are needed, not only material or economic damages but social and political ones, and the setting off of concrete actions that social movements cannot leave aside. It requires to allow the singular authentic stories to arise, the men and women affected to become owners again of their story, without invading them, without presupposing which their needs are, without neither stressing nor prolonging their suffering, each one following its own path, without making them impersonal by putting them on the same homogeneous boat. It requires, also, collective rooms where communication from feelings, and not from ideologies, allows direct and immediate participation in each others' life without any asphyxiating freedom. And of course, it requires looking after those rooms which, due to their fragility, are always going to be working in order to rebuild what is common.

Sharing the grief of the victims is not only an assistance task for specialists. It is not only a matter of social services. It is the capability of seeing death and rebel against it, to assume that it does not work, that it is intolerable and that hyper-precarious living conditions place the majority of the mankind on a permanent catastrophic edge, personally and collectively. This sharing of grief requires to cross the border, be there when understanding means are being elaborated, feel and act; become as fragile as the others; regard the world from a wild darkness; communicate through listening and silence; spread over a warm, feminine ethics; open up oneself to sensibility and affection; recognise other victims on other contemporaneous social scenarios as every thinking is in place, and always looking at from a given place.



“The most important for the victims and the direct relatives of the victims of a violent and shocking event is to get over the victimization. Getting over victimization means free one from the destructive lock which personally, as a family, and socially, produces the aggression to the victim in his most direct environment. Getting over victimization does not mean forgetting, it means that the victim vanquishes its aggressor as he has freed himself from the negative burden that one laid on his life. Getting over the victimization means integrate mourning and suffering into a horizon of constructive sense for the victim’s life. Getting over victimization is to recover freedom and become again a subject of his own history in the different spheres of life”.
(Ethics Code proposal for solidarity with the victims, Elkarri).

“One of the biggest contributions that can be made by those people is that having gone through such an ordeal of suffering, of absurd suffering, they can give sense to that suffering. The suffering and the grief will always be absurd, it cannot ever be understood and no-one can explain again. Now, their experience invites us to enter another orbit which is the orbit of sense. Those people have an impressive courage as testimonies and as examples to enter the field of sense and invite all of us to enter this field. Not only in life’s general sense field but also in the concrete sense of things. What sense does it make to me getting up every day? What sense does it make going to work all the days? The sense of the simple things of every day. To me this is the fundamental topic as a social contribution. Only when we are able to enter this dimension of sense we acquire the possibility of getting over and building from suffering”.
(Isaac Díez, interviewed in Elkarri magazine, number 60, May 2000).

“Participate to assemblies and marches, what moved them to do it?
Mauge: It opened by mind. I realized that I can listen to other people without getting
angry. I always had an opinion towards politics: I don’t like it. Now I started to see
that everyone does something. Something good or something bad. I understood that
the bad thing is not politics. The bad ones are many of those who engage in politics.
Sonia: Those who engage in biased politics.
Mauge: all of us are politicians and engage in politics
Mauge: When we take sides to choose our life”.
(Cro-Magnon Generation, lessons of resistance, solidarity and rock&roll, LaVaca, Buenos Aires 2005).

“Are you Cro-Magnon survivors and do you only look after that?
No: I am a Cro-Magnon survivor and therefore I look after what happens in society”.
(Cro-Magnon Generation, lessons of resistance, solidarity and rock&roll, LaVaca, Buenos Aires 2005).

“I ask you something: what would you say to a boy if he told you he was in Cro-Magnon
and that sometimes thought in committing suicide?
Matías: (thinking, a bit surprised): I would tell him that you have to hold on things
you like most. I think of my girlfriend, my family, my old man…
And what about yourself?
Matías: Of course, because within one self’s values are included the value of the people
one loves. Look out. I am not saying that I am going to commit suicide; I am saying
that sometimes you look at it and you don’t do it. Or you think if I had stayed inside
I wouldn’t be suffering or feeling guilty as I do now. There I think in the people that
I love. I would tell this guy to hold on the nice and good things life has: it is dark, a
very dark life, but there is also the other side, the good things and one carries them
from the bottom of his heart”.
(Cro-Magnon Generation, lessons of resistance, solidarity and rock&roll, LaVaca, Buenos Aires 2005).

“As people we need to give sense to shocking events. In the case of catastrophes, discussion on the causes, the possibility of preventing and responsibility sharing is frequently at the heart of part of posterior reactions. After a disaster, the public opinion tends to put the blame of what happened to a concrete group of authorities or people in charge, who can be criticized in search for them to be punished.
The press play an important role putting forward the agenda of possible responsible people. So many times this responsibility sharing has a truly important nexus. But also polarisation tends to be frequent as well as the following of dominant valued judgements and stereotypes against groups which usually are used as scapegoats. As an example, at the end of 1998, after a series of assassinations in Milan, carried out for cases of scores being settled between different Mafia groups and despite the fact that most of the indicted were Italians, the Lombard League organised a march with the Multiethnic Italy, putting the blame for the problem to immigrants”.
(Carlos Martín Beristain: Rebuilt the social backgrounds. A critical focus to humanitarian aid, Icaria, 1999).

"The existence of concrete victims, with first name and surnames, professions and memberships, etc. prevents us from elaborating generalist ideological and abstract speeches. Besides, if the reality of a country as we painfully realised, is not the same with victims and without them, their look, specific, is part of reality and has to be taken into account; as Adorno used to say, “let suffering talk is the condition to every truth”. The victim is a reality the democratic system did not count on with and that is why it makes it difficult and corrects any analysis of political character by introducing an item (radical asymmetry of a victim) which obliges to question, review and correct all the previous conceptual assurances”.
(Pedro Luis Arias Ergueta, The victims of violence in the Basque conflict, Open Page, 166-167, January–February 2006).

"This dark age we live in under the new World order, sharing pain is one of the prior essential conditions to recover dignity and hope. There is a great part of pain that cannot be shared but the desire for sharing pain of course can be shared. And from that action, inevitably inadequate, there appears a resistance”.
(John Berger, quoted by Carlos Martín Beristain: Rebuild the social backgrounds. A critical focus on humanitarian aid, Icaria, 1999).



Saturday, 25th March 2006
Make group-community grow from the inside without taking into account how big it is because, although being difficult the situation, one always can.

Sunday, 26th March 2006
Build a community of feelings and consensus from which the other’s pain can be felt and bind it to one’s own pain, and this way, be able to explain the unexplainable.




Citizen Network after 11 M [Red Ciudadana tras el 11M]
The Citizen Network after 11M is a meeting room for people affected by 11M, and affective and citizen room also serving to organise themselves for action. It is made of people affected by the March 11 2004 attacks, wounded men and women, relatives of the deceased or wounded people, but people who are not directly affected also take part and those who do so because they feel themselves affected indirectly as the citizens they are. The group arises from the meeting of two different initiatives. On the one hand on May 15th 2004 the First Forum of organising Experiences after 11M met, summoned by the “Grupo de Acción Comuniatria (GAC)”, which is carrying out a psychosocial work in situations of political violence and catastrophes. On these same dates, people affected in Coslada and other districts of the Corredor del Henares started to get together supported by the Social Services of Coslada. From then on, both initiatives have made a long way ahead together.

Later on, due to the in satisfaction and the outrage produced by the look taken by the meetings of the Parliament Inquiry Commission’s meeting over 11M (partisanships, secrets, pacts, etc.) it was taken the decision to call on a weekly gathering before the Parliament, at a first stage, and at the Puerta del Sol afterwards.

The purpose of those gatherings was to claim before such an Inquiry Commission as much transparency as possible in clarifying the facts, establishing responsibilities and requesting the presence of the Civil Society in the development of the Commission sessions, and not accepting them being secret. The gatherings started on 6th July 2004 and took place every week, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. until the closure of the Commission.

In those gatherings signatures from citizens were raised in order to have a group of affected people received by the Chairman of the Commission and make their claims heard. It was also drafted in these gatherings, the speech delivered by Pilar Manjón, a speech which reflected the work made by the network so that all the people affected could express themselves and spell out how they felt after having suffered a terrorist attack, looking always for the common cores, the ties that bind, irrespective of the free membership to one or another association and leaving aside the ideological disagreements. Another initiative was to release a press communiqué and the raising of signatures to address a note to Judge del Olmo denouncing the media usage of the attacks’ images with ominous purposes, as the affected people privacy was considered to be painfully hurt due to the unscrupulous usage of names, faces and memories of their beloved ones.

Currently, every first Sunday of the month the network gets together in the formerly named “Forest of the Absents”, at the Retiro Park (Madrid), and upon request of the affected people it will be named “Forest of Memory”, in order to open a room to remember since that “we need a voice which reaches all the citizens because only embraced by their solidarity, by their comprehension and their warmth we will be able to vanquish the forgetfulness and face the crushing reality and live our whole life without our beloved ones, which does not lead us to nervous breakdown and desperation, but helps up knit networks of love and solidarity which sustain our dignity and make us stronger in the fight for peace, inside and outside ourselves, which we so much need, having them always among us”.

But, let alone the concrete initiatives, the Citizen Network after 11M is a room of growth as a group which has achieved to unite people affected by the attacks at different levels, which works as a supporting network and where people are important to each other. The network is a room for meeting and exchange of ideas, initiatives and gestures, where the needs to be valued and where to decide which actions are going to be taken consensually and with a horizontal structure, where both individual and groups or associations from the Civil society have a share. The core purpose is the thinking and the action: to participate together in activities with a social function, claiming and even therapeutic because “we will continue stating that we exist, that we have rights and that we are capable to take decisions on issues affecting our lives. Although we have gone a long way together, we still have a long way to go”.

Memory Group and Justice for the Youngsters (“Paso”) [Grupo Memoria y Justicia por los Pibes (“Paso”)]
Some days after the massacre of Cro-Magnon on December 30th 2004 in Buenos Aires and due to the news of the horrible combination of corruption, flabbiness, ambition and negligence which made possible the death of 194 persons, we, the relatives of the victims started, parallel to the process of building up means for claim, to get together in a more or less spontaneous way in different groups, very heterogeneous or even non-existing means from previous participation in conflicts or fights.

These groups arose from their knowledge of the parades, also in accordance with geographical closeness, with regards to friendship between the death and surviving boys, etc. Also, of course, the groups were made of survivors, friends of our cause and sensitive people in general. Honestly, for an important part of us, if not for all of us, the formation and support of the groups was the condition for the fight to go on. This is the way our group started and from then on gets together once a week in the street of el Paso of Buenos Aires city in the premises lent by a human rights body. For this reason, and although the name we chose for the group is “Memoria y Justicia por Nuestros Pibes”, it is known by all people as “Grupo Paso”.

The different groups get together every week in a big meeting in a search for unity and coordination of activities of all of them, irrespective of those ones each group can carry out later on. On the first meetings in which no one knew each other and death was still so close, the dialogues were very sad, overwhelmed by grief and by the mechanisms of making the victims feel guilty which were already put forward by the press and politics. Some family groups are dedicating a long time to the penal cause and other activities like public speeches. Ours, without falling into contradiction with others, and on a truly tolerant framework, is mainly aiming to the building of intense and social associations and try to set up mechanisms which include the Memory recovery.

We always understand by Memory, Truth and Justice as the three inseparable rings of the same claim. That’s why not only demanding for trial and punishment to all those politicians and people responsible for the massacre, we started to carry out different activities, most of them took several months to be organised. Among them, we may cite some:

* A Photo Display on the boys’ life in order to give them their individual identities back, we named it “Stolen Lives, Dreams on the Move” in order to make emphasis on the irreparable loss and also to fight for the Never Again. This Display has already made many kilometres and has been shown in tens of places and seen by several thousand of people. The acceptance was so huge that we had to carry out a second photo section we named as a “mini-display”. A Forest in Memory at a square in the city, one tree for every life lost.
* An art contest and the carrying out of a Memory Wall printed by workers of a factory recovered by its workers.
* Various walls and paintings in the city and suburbs.
* Participation in meetings at schools, debates in different places of the city and the country.
* Some members of the group are part of the Murga Survivors, “those who will never keep silent” in the search to recover their smile and music.
* Participation in situations with other similar groups. One of them is the initiative to create a Movement against Impunity, an idea that has been growing in our group and which soon became the heritage of all the groups ‘collaborating room. The still incipient Movement against the Impunity includes, for example, relatives and victims of the massacre of the AMIA, victims of easy shooting, previously organised political sectors, members of human rights bodies.
* Opening to work with solidarity organizations granting their support and in turn, a specific knowledge that helps us. As an example, the alternative communication association called La Vaca which issues reporting is backing our fights and recently, the book called Cro-Magnon Generation, that helps us tell in a amusing and sensitive way, part of what happens to us.
* Contact with relatives of other massacres such as the Ycuá Bolaños supermarket one in Asunción, Paraguay, in August 2004.

The working of our group intends to be horizontal and is being built as we get to know each other even more. In the beginning, most of our meetings moved around our grief, cry, row and even impotence which allowed us rescue the essential role of the people affected at each participation as well as political participation. In the logic of this working, are playing a fundamental role those solidarity friends who didn’t suffer from the situation directly, but who consider as we do, that Cro-Magnon happened to all of us and we are all survivors. Without them, it would be impossible the support task and self-content provided by the meetings, groups of fans, cheers, and all moments shared.

The Paso Group searched from the very beginning to disarm the official speech that states that the victims must stay home crying, because the grief prevents them from thinking. This is not an easy thing to do, since the ill-treatment mechanisms to a victim who claims are a lot and come from different places. And faced to the silence we have been condemned to by the mass media, we are looking for other ways or reaching people reflexively, trying to open up rooms for dialogue, without trying to close them down immediately, but to start to make them work by themselves. That is why, although considering that nothing mitigates the grief of the irreparable loss, the decision to sustain the fight on all fronts – that is the claim of the Memory, True and Justice – has united us very much, in such a difficult situation. The belonging to a group, as we said several times, is what made it possible to hold on even more in the worst moments. The debate, the crying, the row and laughing together is what makes us today, so weak individually, but much stronger.