According to Wikipedia: “A cacerolazo, cacerolada, or casserole is a form of popular protest practiced in certain Spanish-speaking countries – in particular Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Cuba, Spain – and more recently English and French-speaking countries, most notably Québec, as well as in Turkey during the 2013 protests in Turkey and Brazil during the 2015 protests in Brazil – which consists in a group of people creating noise by banging pots, pans, and other utensils in order to call for attention.”
Cacerolazo protests allow people to demonstrate from their homes in repressive conditions, or take to the streets with pots in pans where possible. This creative nonviolent action has been used by people around the world because of its versatility and accessibility. After all, nearly everyone has a pot and spoon. Read more stories and details about the tactic of a cacerolazo protest on Beautiful Trouble’s website.
Stories and art are important ways of conveying the tools and tactics of resistance. As citizens facing challenging times and a wide range of social injustices, sharing ideas for effective action encourages and inspires us to work for change. To the right is a beautiful short film of the Montreal Casseroles Protests. The cacerolazo also played an important role in my novel, The Dandelion Insurrection, as citizens protested and noncooperated with the imposition of martial law in a (slightly) fictionalized United States, “just around the corner of today“. You can read the excerpt of that chapter below.
Can you imagine using a cacerolazo protest for an issue you are protesting? What if we got out our pots and pans for the next trade deal protest or climate justice demonstration? What if we held an all-night pots and pans demonstration protesting police brutality? What could you use a cacerolazo for?
THE DANDELION INSURRECTION
by Rivera Sun
. . . . .
It’s time! It’s time! the bird sang outside the attic window. Hidden in Rudy’s mother’s farmhouse, Charlie looked up from his writing. One by one, the birds had left their huddles on the telephone lines and begun to challenge the stubborn edge of spring. Orioles and chickadees, the starlings, jays, and swallows, the thrushes, finches, and the meadowlarks; all the birds had taken to wing. Warbles sang out from farmyard fences, backyard gardens, and city parks.
It’s time! the little bird chirped. The shift in seasons is upon us! It’s time! It’s time! It’s time!
Charlie scratched his growing stubble and looked longingly out at the bird in the leafing maple tree. He had consoled his itching impatience with a steady stream of writing. That was one thing, at least. The terrorist charges had him cooped up and caged up with clipped wings and chained feet . . . but they hadn’t stopped him from writing. He touched his pen to the page.
It’s time! the bird shrilled from the maple tree.
I know, Charlie thought, it’s time for martial law to end . . . but how?
A stray cow bellowed from the flowerbed. Rudy’s mother leaned out the window and banged a copper-bottomed pan with a wooden spoon.
“Go on,” she cried. “Git!”
Charlie looked up sharply. The clang of the pan rang in his thoughts. He scrawled an idea down and sent it flying.
On the following Monday, people across the country stepped out onto their porches and front stoops with solemn expressions. Arms crossed stubbornly over chests. Twilight turned gray. Curfew fell. They didn’t move. Soldiers ordered them inside. Feet stayed planted. It’s time, they said, the power’s back. The attacks are over. It’s time for martial law to end. The soldiers told them it could only be lifted on the President’s orders. The people shrugged. Consider yourselves warned, they said. The sun vanished. The people went indoors.
They reappeared in the windows with pots in hands. All across the country, the sound walked where their bodies couldn’t. Pots banged out their protest. Rhythm stepped across police blockades. Human spirit connected through the beat. The cacerolazo demonstration came from the Spanish speakers and the French. It passed like wildfire from city to suburb to town, igniting from the frustration of the people.
On Tuesday, the pots and pans rang out at dawn, calling the neighbors out of slumber. It’s time! It’s time! the clatter-racket rhythm insisted. The sharp retorts reverberated into tanks, rattled politicians’ offices, drove concentration out the window, disrupted meals, disturbed the peace, and drove officials crazy.
On Wednesday, the people in Rudy’s town were banned from banging on pots and pans. They pounded on their tractors and car hoods, instead. The local police were ordered to enforce noise ordinances. They refused. The military banned all drumming. Silence fell.
On Thursday, Inez Hernandez sent a message to Rudy.
“Turn on the radios. We’ll broadcast the racket from the city.”
Boom boxes appeared in windows. The shops put radios on the roofs. The local musicians hooked up their amplifiers and rang out the rhythms that were reverberating the city.
“Keep drumming!” Inez told her people. “The nation is listening!”
New York City had never pounded so hard.
On Friday night, the city shook. The suburbs shuddered. The rural regions roared. The racket connected cities to towns to countryside. Solidarity united the people. The sound grew monstrous and wild. It thrilled the soul with its thunderous cacophony. The people leaned out their windows, shocked by the uproar they had unleashed, stunned by the magnitude of the protest, awed by the volume of the masses.
On Saturday, the nation was ordered to desist. The response ricocheted back undeniably. There would be no quiet until martial law was ended! The Man From the North’s last article echoed in their ears: bang to end curfews! Pound to halt pipelines! Strike to stop gas wells! Hammer to get soldiers off our streets! Whatever your reason, get out your pans. We will not live under the thumb of tyranny!
On Sunday, the drumming fell into the rhythm of prayer. Hail Mary’s wafted with the ping-panging of pots. Churchgoers were told to strike three times in penance, four more in contrition, five times for their souls, and six for a miracle. That night, people swore the Devil got involved. Only Satan could have raised such a ruckus! No one slept, not in heaven, not in hell, and certainly not down here on earth. It was rumored that God or the Devil – or possibly both – twisted the ear of the Commander-in-Chief and told him that his mortal soul was at stake – not to mention his sanity, his sleep, his position, his authority, and his command of the troops – if he did not yield to the demands of his people!
Others proffered more secular causes: the atheists swore the stock market’s nosedive did the trick, the anarchists claimed the threat of societal collapse swayed the decision, the psychoanalysts swore the First Lady had threatened divorce, the Banker said it had been statistically inevitable, the Butcher blamed the Man From the North, the Candlestick Maker grumbled that the President had no balls, the people shook their heads at the lunacy of the others – any idiot could hear the real cause was the hammering – but all explanations aside, everyone agreed, on Monday a miracle occurred.
Martial law was finally repealed.
If you enjoyed this excerpt, you’ll love The Dandelion Insurrection!
“When fear is used to control; love is how we rebel!” Under a gathering storm of tyranny, Zadie Byrd Gray whirls into the life of Charlie Rider and asks him to become the voice of the Dandelion Insurrection. With the rallying cry of life, liberty, and love, Zadie and Charlie fly across America leaving a wake of revolution in their path. Passion erupts. Danger abounds. The lives of millions hang by a thin thread of courage, but in the midst of the madness, the golden soul of humanity blossoms . . . and miracles start to unfold!
Rivera Sun is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, the cohost of Occupy Radio, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. She is also the social media coordinator forCampaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene. Sun attended the James Lawson Institute on Strategic Nonviolent Resistance in 2014 and her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance. www.riverasun.com