Alex B., 30, lives in Spain’s northern city of Bilbao where he works as a salesperson. A member of the country’s Indignados movement, Alex launched the “Yo No Pago
” Facebook page.
We launched the ‘Yo No Pago’ movement after Spain’s public sector, most significantly the public transport system, was hit by a series of price hikes. There are several rumours floating around that these services are headed toward privatisation, which has led us to think that what we’re seeing now is just the beginning [plans by Spain’s outgoing government to privatise the country’s airport operator AENA
have recently been delayed].
The cost of a subway ticket in Bilbao has jumped from one euro to 1.50 euros [Barcelona has seen similar hikes
over the last year, with subway tickets rising from 1.45 euros to two euros between 2011 and 2012]. When you compare the price of public transportation in Spain with other European countries, you realise we’re now paying almost the same as French commuters [a ticket to ride the metro in Paris costs 1.70 euros], when the minimum wage in Spain adds up to only 641 euros per month [compared to 1,365 euros per month in France].
“We also plan to do the same thing at toll booths on the highway, but it’s slightly more complicated”
Like protesters in Greece, we use Facebook and other social networking websites to organise ourselves. Our campaign targets buses, the subway and parking meters. We also plan to do the same thing at toll booths on the highway, but it’s slightly more complicated to organise and we have to be certain that public opinion is on our side. [In Greece, activists have been able to carry out actions such as letting cars pass for free or jamming toll machines thanks to the “complicity
” of a handful of toll booth operators].
"Yo No Pago" action on a bus in Spain's eastern city of Valencia.
Regarding the metro, there’s a rule that states jumping a turnstile alone does not justify a citation, but that one has to be caught riding without a ticket. On top of that, the majority of people don’t know that public transport security [guardia jurado] don’t have the power to issue you a ticket. Only a police officer or an official state representative has the right to do so. It’s a little-known legal loophole, which means that the majority of people who are issued citations pay them regardless.
Our campaign is a way of saying that we will not be left picking up the pieces for somebody else’s mistake. I think had there been less corruption, and had the politicians and the banks done a better job of managing public affairs, we wouldn’t be seeing fare hikes".
"Yo No Pago" in Valencia.