An activist leads a chant at the climate strike in Madrid on 6 December 2019. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF

In Madrid, the climate strike is the COP of the masses

Alongside the U.N. climate negotiations Madrid, people take to the streets

Mid-way through the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Madrid (COP 25), young climate activism celebrity Greta Thunberg arrived in the Spanish capital just in time for the Friday’s Climate Strikes. As 500,000 people took to the streets to join the movement she created, Landscape News joined them on the ground to capture their voices, concerns and hopes.

Isabelle Pereda. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Isabelle Pereda. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF

Isabelle Pereda, missionary, Red Solidaria de Acogida

The Earth is safeguarding the spirits of the ancestors of the Africans. And it has; it contains Africa’s livelihoods, the traditional crops. I am a missionary and have lived many years in Africa. And I am here with a solidarity welcoming network for immigrants. We are expressing our concerns about the fact that there are many displacements of people that are caused by the exploitation of their land. For example, in Africa, land grabbing the immigration of Africans towards here many times happens because of the exploitation of the resources of these countries… cultivations that push people more and more away, taking away land or renting them for a hundred years without respecting the culture of the local people. Not only is it an economic, ecological colonialism, but it also affects the whole cultural and human perspective.

We are here to say that borders kill. We build borders not for the goods from Africa but for the people. We are not only stealing their agricultural and mining resources, but also the richest resource, which is the African people and their dignity.

That’s why I’m here, for a world without borders. God has made it beautiful for all and with capacity for all men and women. That is what we have come here to say: A world for all, and a world without borders!

Isidre Castañé, Extinction Rebellion member. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Isidre Castañé. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF

Isidre Castañé, Extinction Rebellion member

Well, the place where I had been working for a long time didn’t want to talk about CO2 emissions or climate change, so I had to leave that work. Now I am working as an educator. I think it is important to be here because we spent, like, three decades in useless talks between politicians and so on. We are really out of time.

Extinction Rebellion member Flôr Filgueiras at the climate strike. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Flôr Filgueiras. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF

Flôr Filgueiras, Extinction Rebellion member

Every time in the COP, we recognize that we are in a climate crisis, and yet nothing has been done. We are here to demand that this time we get out of here with concrete measures and that they are taken seriously by the governments. It’s so overwhelming and so beautiful at the same time knowing that we have all the people fighting for the same thing, and we are all going to be able to take down the system and make a better world for everyone.

A sign reads: "Tomorrow will be too late!" Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Refugee and migrant rights lawyer Patricia Fernandez. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Patricia Fernandez. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF

Patricia Fernandez, refugee and migrant rights lawyer

Here, there are a lot of people who have moved to Spain because of the climate change – these people who have to flee from their homes because of the companies that work in their countries to extract their richness, and people have to flee because of the poverty and the climate change. They have to move, they reach Europe, they try to get a life with dignity, but they cannot get it because of the political parties.

Our experience with [COP] is that the real conference is here in the streets, not in the big conference center. Here are the people who are going to make the change.

Activists carry a sign calling for action at the climate strike. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Secondary school teacher and father Manuel Sangüesa. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Manuel Sangüesa. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF

Manuel Sangüesa, Secondary school teacher

I have two kids, and they also feel this is something we should fight for – a better planet for all of us. They feel like something should be done as soon as possible. Most of the people, for example here in Madrid, might be concerned, but then it’s not so easy to change your living if you’re used to using a car, or if you’re used to some ways of consuming. We should all try, not only big governments or corporations. Sometimes [governments] try to change what they say if they know many people are concerned about an issue. It might help a little bit, I’m not sure. We have to change our ways of life in order to survive.

An activist shouts into a megaphone. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Marina, a high school student with ambitions to become a nurse, joins the strike with friends. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Marina, second from left. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF

Marina, high school student

I want to be a nurse. I like helping people and being with people. But even if I wanted to be something else, I would still be here, because I want to live. I’m glad that there are a lot of people talking about climate change [at COP], but they have to do something afterward. Otherwise it’s useless.

An artistic banner of Indigenous peoples at the strike. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Climate activist Carlos Felipe Guarnizo. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Carlos Felipe Guarnizo. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF

Carlos Felipe Guarnizo, activist

I am here because there have been more than 300 activists killed in Colombia because of paramilitarism and land restitution by corporations that are taking over the lands of the small-scale farmers. And basically, the rich people of Colombia are taking all the lands, while many people are being killed by violence and war. The Colombian government says nothing and does nothing.

This march is the march of the climate. Corporations are killing people, and new right-wing governments are expanding. And so, here we are for this.

People shout at the climate strike. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
"I love birds" reads a sign at the climate strikes in Madrid. Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF
Melissa Kaye Angel, GLF



…thank you for reading this story. Our mission is to make them freely accessible to everyone, no matter where they are. 

We believe that lasting and impactful change starts with changing the way people think. That’s why we amplify the diverse voices the world needs to hear – from local restoration leaders to Indigenous communities and women who lead the way.

By supporting us, not only are you supporting the world’s largest knowledge-led platform devoted to sustainable and inclusive landscapes, but you’re also becoming a vital part of a global movement that’s working tirelessly to create a healthier world for us all.

Every donation counts – no matter the amount. Thank you for being a part of our mission.

Sidebar Publication

Related articles

Related articles