The people of the Rif Region (Northern Morocco) has been featuring, over the past months, since October of last year, an uninterrupted process of mobilization that brought to the surface, once again, the authoritarianism, misery and social chaos affecting the Maghrebi country.
By Gabriel Huland.
The main demands of the protestors are access to a public health system; construction of schools, universities, and hospitals; decent jobs; as well as the end of State corruption, and the withdrawal of the regime’s repressive forces that have been terrorizing the population of the Rif for decades.
There is also a demand for freedom for the detainees of the last months, which, according to the protestors, exceed the 85 since the beginning of the crisis. Among the detainees, there are Nasser Zefzafi and Nawal Benaisa, two leaders of the Al Hirak al Shaabi (popular movement), the group convoking and organizing the demonstrations.
The movement has is peaceful and the confrontations are usually occasioned by the security forces, which following orders from the government in Rabat, harshly repress the manifestations, even shooting the crowd with live ammunition.
The solidarity with the struggle of the Rif people is large within and outside the country. Recently, there was a march on Rabat, called by various political parties –from “moderate Islamists” to the radical left- which gathered tens of thousands of people, expressing that an increasing group of Moroccans support the struggle taken ahead in the Northern part of the country.
Even political parties that are part of the administration coalition have participated in the demonstration in Rabat, which indicates some degree of disarray within the regime itself. Besides, in the Spanish State as well as in the Netherlands and Belgium –countries with significant Moroccan and Riffian communities,- there have been demonstrations in solidarity with the protests of Alhucemas.
The current popular uprising, which has a clear common thread with the Moroccan Arab Spring and the February 20th Movement (F20), which emerged at the end of last year, after the death of the fish salesman Mouhcine Fikri, shredded by a rubbish compressor after having his goods seized by a State DA.
During the Arab Spring, when the F20 movement emerged and the country was shaken by important demonstrations, the Rif region was one of the focal points of the protests for better living conditions and against the monarchical centralism. Back then, the Riffian people were also victims of a brutal repression, which resulted in countless deaths and injured ones.
In fact, it was just after one of the most violent clashes between the Riffian population and the security forces, in which tens of peoples lost their lives, that the king Mohamed VI began the process of constitutional reforms, which played a key role for the Moroccan Arab Spring setback and to stabilize the country. Additionally, the role played by the Communist Party and several unions, negotiating with the monarchy, was a key to the process.
Economic growth without social justice
The living conditions of the Moroccans, especially of its working class and most disadvantaged sectors, are gradually deteriorating, despite the moderate economic growth of the country over the past years.
Morocco has become a source of cheap labor force for multinational companies. The average wage of a non-qualified worker does not reach $1 Euro per hour, and this is not different for other branches of the economy. Besides, the proximity with Europe and the recent improvement in roads and trains are important features, as they facilitate transportation of goods across the country and to Europe.
The historical struggle for self-determination of the Rif
Also, the struggle of the Riffian peoples for self-determination is historical. Its origin goes back to the colonial occupation of the country by Spain and France. In the 1920s, under the leadership of Abd el-Krim, an important political leader of the region until nowadays, the Rif declared itself independent, giving origin to the Rif Republic. France and Spain declared the war to the Republic immediately after its proclamation, initiating a conflict that lasted over six years and caused tens of thousands of deaths and refugees.
The Moroccan government accuses the protestors of receiving support from foreign groups, using the same rhetoric used by governments like Al Assad in Syria and Maduro in Venezuela, which, in order to justify repression, need to create a fictional foreign enemy to avoid having to give any explanation of the unfair and antisocial policies they implement.
From Corriente Roja, we express our support to the protests in Alhucemas, and we make the demands of the Riffian people our own. We demand the immediate release of the detainees, we defend their absolute right to self-determination, and for the Moroccan government to attend all of the claims made by the protestors.
Besides, we insist that the social movements –unions, left-wing political parties, and other groups- organize solidarity with the Riffian people, in struggle for dignity, democracy, and social justice.
Translation: Guillermo Zuñiga.
Originally published @ www.corrienteroja.net/