Marchers from around the world use the first of May, or May Day, to hold rallies. Typically during the rallies, workers and labor unions voice dissatisfaction with their governments. As tourist swelled from cruise ships in Cartagena Spain, local families picnicked and the Navy Band played on Sunday. Just as visible, protesters were on the move around the city center. Stepping out of a bodega on Calle Mar Mayor in the old town, my wife and I were greeted by peaceful protestors on their way to Plaza Héroes de Cavite. The protestors represented the Communist Party, Greens, labor union confederations, among others.

Peaceful protests were conducted in Madrid as well, with almost 50,000 attendees. With marches in more than 70 other Spanish cities, Barcelona had ​​several thousand people demonstrating, with the central theme, “demand for higher wages and for the government to contain inflation” which continues to skyrocket.

Turkey’s May Day Demonstrations Lead to Arrests

While the protests here in Spain were relatively quiet, the story was quite different in other locations around Europe. Turkish police arrested scores of demonstrators around the country during Sunday’s May Day celebrations, also known as International Workers’ Day. In Istanbul, marchers made their way to Taksim Square in the city center, protesting the current economic situation in the country. A total of 164 demonstrators were arrested for “attempting to hold illegal demonstrations,” Istanbul’s governor’s office said in a statement. Like other countries, Turkey has significant inflation, rising over 60% since the first of the year.

Rallies in France

In France, an estimated 250 large rallies occurred in cities across the country, including Lille, Nantes, Toulouse, and Marseille. Violence set the tone in Paris. Clashes took place on the sidelines of a march in the French capital on Sunday, with demonstrators protesting the policies of recently reelected French President Emmanuel Macron. Fending off a challenge from far-right populist rival Marine Le Pen a week ago, during the Sunday runoff vote, French president Macron now faces strong resistance to his plans. The plans are seen by his opponents on the left, as pro-business. Among his policies is the desire to increase the retirement age to 65. Across the country, the “cost-of-living crisis” was also a major protest theme, as it was in last month’s election campaign.

History of May Day

International Workers’ Day, also known as Labor Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of laborers and the working class, promoted by the international labor movement, occurring every year on May 1. In many countries, this has traditionally been the day for spring festivals. However, the date was chosen in 1889 for political reasons by the Marxist International Socialist Congress, which met in Paris and established the International Workingmen’s Association.

Celebrated in some parts of the United States, the American Federation of Labor originally chose the date in the late 1800s. This continued the campaign for the eight-hour work day in the United States. The original protest had spawned a general strike, beginning on May 1, 1886, culminating four days later with explosions in Chicago. Killing over a dozen police officers and protestors, this event is known as the Haymarket Affair.

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Jay Hicks is an author, instructor and consultant. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition and has co-authored “The Transitioning Military Series”. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transitions4U, where advocating the value of hiring military personnel is the key focus. More about Jay and his passion can be found at