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Europe

Mass protests in Spain blame politicians and banks for economic crisis

Mass demonstrations gripped Spain on Sunday with protesters descending on Madrid and Barcelona to blame politicians and banks for the nation's economic woes. Spain continues to suffer from crushing unemployment.

Spanish protesters in Madrid

The protests centered in Madrid and Barcelona

More than 100,000 protesters took to the streets in cities across Spain on Sunday, accusing politicians and bankers of implementing economic policies that led to the highest unemployment rate in the eurozone.

In Spain's capital, Madrid, protesters converged near the parliament building where 500 police were deployed to maintain security. The police estimated that between 35,000 and 45,000 people joined the demonstrations with no reports of violence.

"I'm here because this is a con," Juanjo Montiel, a 26 year old who works in information technology, told the news agency Reuters.

"I'm lucky enough to have a job, but many don't and have no chance. And on top of that, the politicians want to make more cuts. This not our fault, it's the system."

In Barcelona, Spain's second largest city, 50,000 people turned out to protest while groups of several thousand demonstrators took to the streets in other cities.

The protests focused on the "Euro Pact," an agreement among eurozone politicians to stimulate competitiveness. In order to comply with the pact, Spain has implemented reforms that give companies greater power to hire and fire employees.

Spain currently suffers from 21 percent unemployment across the board and more than 40 percent unemployment among those less than 25 years old.

Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

Zapatero's Socialists suffered losses during May elections

Indignant

The protest movement, called the "indignant," began on May 15 prior to regional and local elections. Those elections saw Spain's ruling Socialists, led by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, suffer major losses largely attributed to the country's stubborn economic crisis.

Since its founding in May, the protest movement has fanned out across Spain with protesters on Sunday reading a manifesto calling for a general strike and for a revolution.

"The capitalist system does not work, it only benefits a few and harms the majority," a young female protester told the news agency dpa.

Political leaders in Spain have implemented controversial austerity measures to avoid the debt crisis that has gripped Ireland, Portugal and Spain.

"The banks and the governments that caused this situation must know that we do not agree with the measures and the budget cuts, that we intend to be heard," the "indignant" movement said when calling for nationwide protests.

Many of those who participated in Sunday's protests hope the size of the demonstrations will force the government to listen to their demands.

"The politicians have to come here and see this," Paloma Cirujano, a nurse in Madrid, told the news agency Reuters.

"This (movement) has to come to something. It won't just end here."

Author: Spencer Kimball (Reuters, AFP, dpa)
Editor: Mark Rossman

DW.DE