BARCELONA -- Police closed down significant parts of the Mobile World Congress today while students protested cuts in education outside the event.
Security officials began erecting barriers at about 4 pm Barcelona time, effectively cutting the massive Fira exhibition center in two. Attendees and exhibitors were directed toward exits at the middle and rear of the Fira to avoid several hundred student protesters who staged a sitting protest for about two hours in the traffic circle outside the front entrance to the Fira.
Students outside said they were protesting cuts in education at all levels, especially prep schools and universities. The cuts involved hiring freezes, planned staff cuts and reductions in supplies and services.--Video by Sylvie Barak, Story and photos by Rick Merritt .
Police block off the traffic circle and front entrance to Barcelona's massive Fira exhibition center in the wake of student protests. The nearby subway station was also closed.
The sign says, "We are students, not criminals" referring to reports of students beaten and jailed in earlier protests in Valencia.
Whatever may be their demands -just or unjust- it is unwise to do demonstrations in an international exhibition like MWC. Because these issues are at national level and drawing international attention to such internal issues does not make much sense.
Yeah, I agree. Very politically astute of the kids in Barcelona. I know there was a talk about the mass transit in Barcelona was considering about going on a strike before the show. MWC is the biggest event for those who live in Barcelona. It's the biggest leverage they can use!
Ironic that the global mobile industry that made "flash mobs" possible may have provided the wherewithal to stage what was clearly a peaceful gathering to protest economic inequality. Technology does not exist in a vacuum.
Running a risk of being another ditto head(!), I agree with the two dissenters above! The scale and importance of MWC can not be over-stated and in these days of ubiquitous mobile computing, these students are using effective methods to get their message across.
In technology and other businesses, the boundaries (and their related policies albeit national level) between national and international issues are blurring. I would sincerely hope what these students did gets seriously noticed and accounted for in policy decisions.
The message they are really getting accross is that Spain is a bad place to hold an international conference. I am sure conference organizers have already decided they will not schedule any future conferences like this in Spain for the foreseeable future.
Spain is going to pay a real financial price in future years because of this demonstration. This protest can only hurt the local economy that is paying for their education. Seems counter productive to me.