I was walking home from work and literally stumbled upon a march like no other I’ve seen so far. It wasn’t huge, but immigrants were visibly present. This was interesting because African immigrants, who are probably those with the least resources here, were so visibly in the streets.

Talking to one of the participants, I learned it was being organized largely by the Asociación de Sin Papeles (the Asociation of Those Without Papers) a group that has arisen in the Lavapies neighborhood of Madrid, one of the most heavily immgrant neighborhoods of the city, right next to my own, in La Latina. The fact that undocumented workers are autonomously organizing, is, on it’s own, quite important. These are the folks that probably live in most fear of the police, the people in the shadows, and there they were, making their voices heard. Beautiful.

Mor Ndiaye

Mor Ndiaye

But the motivation for this march was really surprising – they were calling for the decriminalization of “top manta” – the common practice of selling pirate merchandise – DVDs and CDs usually – on the streets. In particular they were asking for a pardon for a Senegalese man, Mor Ndiaye, who was sentenced to 8 months for these activities.

This is an interesting, and heavily loaded, intersection of immigration law and DRM law (one of the issues from my previous experience in tech news that i was profoundly interested in.) And its a difficult conundrum on the surface of it. You could say “wait, we’re supposed to legalise an illegal practice because people without legal residency are doing it?” And unfortunately I think the argument about immigration could get lost in the argument about piracy and the extent to which we should promote DRM. It really shouldn’t be about a certain type of labor. These people should be able to work legally in legal industries – not illegally in legal industries (like restaurants, bars or construction) and not illegally in illegal industries (like piracy). The spokespeople say in the article linked below, that they aren’t asking for the legalization of piracy but that they just want it decriminalized , unfortunately, for the pro-DRM crowd, that’s probably not going to fly.

At any rate, it’s an interesting campaign to keep an eye on, and an interesting organization I hope to check out soon.

Here’s the link to the Spanish report in ADN, video on this link.

From público.es.

Info on the Association in El País.