After a November of fury in the vicinity of Madrid's Calle de Ferraz, where the PSOE's national headquarters are located, the stairs of the parish of the Immaculate Heart, on the corner of Calle Marqués de Urquijo, have begun December with relative tranquillity. Every evening, starting at 19:20 p.m., a small group gathers next to the church to profess their faith. The leader of the prayer is a young man named Jose Andres Calderon who is convinced that the abandonment of Catholicism has plunged the nation into a "spiritual" crisis. "Spain has won all its battles with the rosary in hand. The left is indoctrinating our young people and building society on the death of God that Nietzsche predicted," he says.
Gone are the scenes that shook the neighbourhood during the first weeks of last month, when hundreds of young people violently confronted the police or threatened to storm the Congress or La Moncloa to defend Spain from an alleged coup d'état. Placed on the front line of protests attended every day by thousands of other people – these gathered peacefully to show their rejection of the PSOE's pact with the pro-independence parties – they ended up taking centre stage, in the streets and on social networks, giving rise to a viral phenomenon.
The success of Pedro Sánchez's investiture on 16 November was a turning point and, since then, the intensity and turnout for the mobilisations has greatly declined. This Wednesday, only 75 people went to Ferraz to maintain the "permanent mobilization" that Vox leader Santiago Abascal demanded at the beginning of the protest. Those who resist, much older than those young people who confronted the police, have replaced firecrackers, flares and the burning of containers with resignation, cups of hot broth or prayers. The "national November" that the slogans shouted in the first days is over, but Ferraz retains his last representatives.
A rosary, a mobile phone and a loudspeaker, Carla Toscano's weapons to ascend in the new Vox
To keep things up, this week a couple brings a table, two large saucepans, a ladle and a bunch of glasses every afternoon. The improvised stall has offers as varied as they are poetic: "Vodka-lemon, Marlaska faggot", "ham sandwich, wake up Bourbon" or "ham broth, prison for the felon" are some of its promotions.
"Drink, madam, a hot broth, it's cold.
"What does it cost?" I'm coming by bus from Seville, I can only give you the will: 50 cents.
Throughout the month of November, these streets have witnessed all kinds of messages against the press, the Constitution, the Government or the Monarchy. Once the legislature has begun, the figures for attendance at the protests reflect a downward trend: 200 attendees on Monday, 150 on Tuesday and 75 this Wednesday, the start of the bank holiday weekend in Madrid.
The beginnings of the mobilization
The former president of the Community of Madrid Esperanza Aguirre joined hundreds of citizens, summoned through social networks, to the protest against the amnesty law and the government of Pedro Sánchez, on November 11, near the headquarters of the PSOE on Ferraz Street, in Madrid. Rodrigo Jimenez (EFE)
Although the Vox-linked youth organisation Revuelta has been at the forefront of most of the protests, the fuse was lit coinciding with a conference by former Prime Minister José María Aznar, who branded Pedro Sánchez a "danger to democracy" and urged people to mobilise. "Whoever can contribute, let him contribute; Whatever he can do, let him do," he said during an event in early November. A day later, the investiture agreement between the PSOE and ERC provoked the first concentration of hundreds of citizens in front of the socialist headquarters. Another historic leader of the PP, Esperanza Aguirre, took up the gauntlet and participated in the protest by blocking traffic in Ferraz. Thus began a series of mobilizations that paralyzed the neighborhood for a month and caused damage to urban furniture worth 28,000 euros, according to the City Council.
Vox mobilizes the ultra galaxy under the slogan "National November"
The calls began to be stirred up by Revuelta. The ultras had anger for everyone. The Constitution suddenly became "the enemy of the nation." The cheers to Franco, the pre-constitutional flags and the Face to the Sun were part of the scenery. And the heraldry of the Spanish flag was replaced by a new logo in charge of giving its name to this citizen uprising: "national November". Felipe VI was branded a "Freemason", "traitor" or "accomplice" of the alleged coup when he proposed Sánchez as a candidate for the investiture.
Two Weeks of Riots and Viral Phrases
Demonstrators in front of the PSOE headquarters on Ferraz Street, on the night of November 14, with inflatable dolls. Kiko Huesca (EFE)
It was during the second week of protests that the most intense days took place. On November 7 — the most violent night — Twitter user and agitator Alvise Pérez and Desokupa leader Daniel Esteve led a column of demonstrators that left Ferraz and crossed Gran Vía to head to Congress, under the perplexed gaze of pedestrians. Along the way, several ultras recalled the assault on the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters in 2021. "The Americans, they really know how to do things big," said one. They finally returned to Ferraz – although a group also threatened to mount a march towards La Moncloa – and the night was marked by riots, with 30 officers injured.
On November 9, the record attendance was recorded (8,000 people), coinciding with the signing of the agreement between the PSOE and Junts, although the figure is far from the 80,000 demonstrators who attended the PP calls in Sol on November 12 or the 170,000 in Cibeles on the 18th.
The outrage of the masses over the police action became routine. The attendees accused the agents of being "accomplices of Sanchismo" or uttered homophobic insults against the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska. This clash with the police soon gave way to Ferraz's first martyr: a young protester whose image went viral after spreading on his X account that the officers had attacked him with tear gas for "defending Spain". The image of the young man equipped with a helmet and a Carlist flag that did not stop repeating "long live Christ the King" in front of the cameras, or that of the self-proclaimed Captain Spain, famous for the shield with which he intended to "protect Santiago Abascal", also circulated on the networks. The Vox leader attended the November 13 rally accompanied by Tucker Carlson, the American presenter fired from the Fox network for spreading hoaxes. And it didn't take long for machismo to be present, as on the night of November 15, when a group of demonstrators brought inflatable dolls that, according to them, were "the ministers of the PSOE".
Ultra puncture at Sánchez's investiture
A protester shouts "Long live Christ the King" during one of the days of protest in Ferraz in November. Diego Sanchez
Pedro Sánchez's investiture marked a before and after. Although a large mobilization was expected, the protests only managed to gather half a thousand people in the vicinity of the Congress on the day of the vote, November 16. While the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, expressed her taste for fruit inside the hemicycle, a few replied outside remembering the mother of the newly elected president. The violence was not only verbal, as the socialist deputy Herminio Sancho was attacked by a group of ultras while he was having breakfast in a nearby bar.
Sánchez's re-election reignited the protests in Ferraz, with 4,000 attendees that night, but, since then, they rarely reach a thousand, and this week there have been just a few dozen.
A group of demonstrators kneel during prayers on Tuesday at anti-amnesty protests on Madrid's Calle Ferraz.Claudio Álvarez
The streets that once vibrated against the coup d'état now claim that praying is not a crime. The heat of the flares has been transformed into cups of chocolate and what was once a neighbourhood surrounded by police fences is now full of cars, the stroll of its neighbours and the toasts in its bars.
While the current situation shifts the focus to the rupture between Podemos and Sumar, the five years of blockade of the General Council of the Judiciary or the operation out of the December long weekend, José Andrés Calderón returns to the stairs of the parish, grabs his megaphone and thanks the support of his colleagues before beginning to pray the Rosary to protect the unity of Spain. They are the last ones in front of Ferraz.
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