May 23, 2012, Wednesday afternoon -- Reading George Orwell -- Barcelona, Spain

In Placa de George Orwell, in the Bari Gòtic neighborhood
This is me, lounging in a piece of modern art and reading Homage to Catalonia, Orwell's book about the Spanish Civil War, which was partly set in Barcelona.  I'd read this book a couple of years ago and am rereading it while I'm here.
Initially I'd picked it up after reading Orwell's book Burmese Days, in which he puts a negative spin on colonialism.  Orwell had served in the military while in Burma and, after his time there, he came to Spain to volunteer as a soldier against fascism.  Homage to Catalonia is about that experience. 

I've been carrying the book around with me and visiting sites, like the present day Hotel Rivoli where he sat on the roof and read Penguin Library books with his rifle trained on the Civil Guards at the neighboring cafe Moka. 

Orwell not only fought on the front (where he was hit by a bullet that went through his neck...and he lived) but also in Barcelona, where the militias (volunteer troops with anarchist, communist, labor unions and other affiliations) were fighting against the police (the Civil Guards).  One of these labor unions was UGT  (Union General de Trabajadores)  and is still fighting for their rights today.  
On May 23rd (same day as me reading in the square), to protest budget cuts, about 500 (my guess) UGT and CCOO (Comisiones Obreras, the largest trade union in Spain) members marched through the streets carrying torches, followed by about 10 police cars.
Not just UGT and CCOO are protesting cuts.  The day before the streets were full of students wearing bright yellow t-shirts that said SOS, to protest education cuts.  Here's a website with pictures