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Spain anti-austerity marches attract thousands

Miners shout slogans during a march by thousands of people Saturday at Neptuno Square in Madrid, Spain, to protest the austerity measures of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

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Miners shout slogans during a march by thousands of people Saturday at Neptuno Square in Madrid, Spain, to protest the austerity measures of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

MADRID — Tens of thousands of people marched on Spain's parliament on Saturday to protest austerity measures, a demonstration that came on the 32nd anniversary of a failed attempt by the armed forces to overthrow the government.

Protest groups joined forces under the slogan "Citizens' Tide, 23F," referring to the Feb. 23, 1981, attack by the armed forces on the parliament. Organizers said that Spain "is under a financial coup" and called on people to march against what they said was government favoritism toward financial institutions at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Many Spaniards have been enraged by austerity cutbacks and tax hikes introduced by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a bid to reduce the deficit, ease market pressures on government borrowing and avoid a full financial bailout. Spain is in its second recession in three years and has 26 percent unemployment.

"We are all indignant and think the measures adopted by the government are wrong, especially considering they did not say they would adopt them before the elections when people voted them into office," said Sergio Sosa, a 46-year-old employee of Iberia airlines, which is planning to cut 3,800 jobs.

Rajoy was elected in a landslide late in 2011 after saying during his campaign that he had no plans to raise taxes or cut pensions.

About 2,000 riot police guarded the columns of protesters that marched toward parliament from four points in Madrid.

Regional Interior Ministry officials said late Saturday they did not have estimates of the number of people demonstrating. They said the protests were peaceful.

Spain anti-austerity marches attract thousands 02/23/13 [Last modified: Saturday, February 23, 2013 10:46pm]
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