Professional Protesters / Fernando Dámaso

The public meetings and marches of protest, so common nowadays, are almost as old as the humanity itself. In different forms, and for different reasons, we can find them in all eras of world history. Some because of their transcendence, have prevailed in our memories, and others less important, have been erased by the time. However, both have played a roll in the making of history, facilitating changes and adjustments, mostly for the benefit of the mankind. Those who had been participating consciously in them, and those who still participate today, defending their rights and good causes, deserve a lot of respect and are not the subject of these lines.

Since the end of the past century and the first years of the current one, they had been changing and growing, sometimes out of proportion. Today protesting has become commonplace, practically everything is protested, turning it into a national sport as well as an international one. There is a great variety of protests: against the politicians in office, against economists, against credit organizations, in support of different social groups, against the greenhouse effect, against fossil fuels, against hunger, in favor of the whales, polar bears, kangaroos, etcetera. Sometimes they are organized against certain books, pictures, paintings, sculptures and so forth.

In this process of spreading mass protests, avery peculiar character has emerged: the professional of the protest (the protester). In reality, he is not concerned with the reason of the protest and has nothing in common with it. His participation is just motivated by snobbishness and his attention seeking behavior. As a general rule he has a comfortable economic situation or a patron (individual or social), who conveniently helps him. In his wardrobe, to make sure he won’t clash with the nature of each protest, he has all kind of outfits: from t-shirts with musical or third world icons, like Che and Lennon, to olive-green caps showing humongous red stars at Mao Zedong style, not counting boots, jeans, jackets, parkas, etcetera, all of them of famous brand names, preferably the most popular ones.

Another important aspect is their freedom of movement: He or she is ready to participate (interested or disinterested) in any part of their own country or the world, as long as in that place the right to protest is conveniently respected. You will never find them in those places where protest (by your own decision) is strictly forbidden, and by doing it you pay with your life or a jail term. This character shows up either in a big city or a tiny country town in the middle of nowhere, any place where there’s someone or something to protest against. They meet and move massively by land, air or sea, using buses, trains or ships and even planes. They come like the plagues and proceed to settle down and establish chaos and anarchy, making more difficult the existence of the locals, with their multiple signs and banners in the wind, their burning of flags and their speeches and harangues learned well by repeating them restlessly.

Years ago, many of these characters, planned their social international meetings in their agendas: for the spring, an exhibition of Van Gogh paintings in Amsterdam; for the summer an out doors concert in Saint Mark’s square; ; for the fall , in Paris Opera house and in the winter, in the Rockefeller Center in New York City. Now everything had changed: in the spring they meet for a march in defense of the whales in Sidney, Australia; in the summer in London against the International Monetary Fund; in the fall in Buenos Aires in support of the native South American Indians and in the winter in Moscow against the greenhouse effect.

These activities, of a marked folkloric significance, are made with a big deployment of the news media, due to the importance of protesting, but also and much more important, is to be in the newspapers, magazines, the TV and also on the internet. This builds the curriculum for a future events participation. Obtaining a protester profile, guarantees your position in the select group of professional protesters, including to be invited to different events, most of them all expenses paid. The professional protester, born in the last century, without a doubt, because of his dedication and tenacity, has a place in society and has created a new occupation for the XXI century.

Translated by: Adrian Rodriguez

June 22 2011