Friday, April 27, 2018

At least 100,000 march in Spain over austerity

MADRID — At least 100,000 Spaniards angered by grim economic prospects and the political handling of the international financial crisis turned out for street demonstrations in the country's cities Saturday, marking the one-year anniversary of a movement that inspired similar pressure groups in other countries.

Tens of thousands of protesters in Madrid flooded into the central Puerta del Sol plaza in the evening and aimed to stay for three days.

"I'm here to defend the rights that we're losing and for the young people who have it so tough," 57-year-old middle school teacher Roberto Alonso said. "They're better educated than ever. But they don't have work. They don't have anything. They're behind and they'll stay that way."

At least 20,000 people demonstrated in Barcelona. Marches were also held in Bilbao, Malaga and Seville.

The protests began May 15 last year and drew hundreds of thousands of people calling themselves the Indignant Movement. The demonstrations spread across Spain and Europe as anti-austerity sentiment grew.

Spain is in recession, and unemployment stands at almost 25 percent — the highest among the 17 countries using the euro. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government has enacted deep cuts to reduce the national debt, but many people blame those measures for deepening families' financial plight.

Protests also took place Saturday in other European cities. In Britain, several hundred anti-capitalist protesters from the Occupy movement marched peacefully through London's financial district. Hundreds also took to the streets in Brussels and Lisbon, Portugal.

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