'Indignant' Protests to Sweep Across World
MADRID — "Indignant" protesters, angered by a biting economic crisis they blame on politicians and bankers, vow to take to the streets worldwide Saturday in a protest spanning 71 nations.
It is the first global show of power by the protest, born May 15 when a rally in Madrid's central square of Puerta del Sol sparked a movement that spread nationwide, then to other countries.
As governments cut deep into welfare spending to try to trim huge sovereign debts, protests have grown and this weekend's demonstrations are being organized in Madrid, New York and around the world.
"United in one voice, we will let politicians, and the financial elites they serve, know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future," organizers said in a statement on http://15october.net/.
"We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers who do not represent us."
The organizers, relying heavily on Facebook and Twitter, say street protests will be held October 15 in 719 cities across 71 countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
The protests first took hold in Spain, with a jobless rate of 20.89 percent, rising to 46.1 percent for 16-24 year olds, where activists built ramshackle camps in city squares including Puerta del Sol.
Then they spread to Europe, finding strong backing in crisis-hit countries like Greece, and then worldwide -- last month reaching the center of global capitalism in Wall Street.
In Madrid, Saturday's protest will end in Puerta del Sol, still the spiritual center of the overwhelmingly peaceful protests even though the protest camp was dismantled in June.
Three marches will converge on the city's emblematic square of Cibeles at 6pm (1600 GMT) before proceeding to Puerta del Sol for assemblies lasting through the night.
The Occupy Wall Street protest, which started September 17 with a camp of several hundred people in a small square in the New York financial district, has also struck a powerful chord among US media and politicians.
Organizers called a rally in Times Square for 5 pm (2100 GMT), saying they would be at the center of the international protests.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, predicted Wednesday the Wall Street demonstrations, which bring thousands of people together for marches, would one day spell the downfall of the West.
"This movement will soar to completely mark the downfall of the West and the capitalist regime," he said.
Anger over unemployment and opposition to the financial elite are common themes in the otherwise disparate movement.
But while Spain's protesters have specific demands such as attacking unemployment by cutting working hours and imposing compulsory retirement at 65, others are focused on protesting existing conditions.
The outlook for the "indignants" is not clear.
French economist Thomas Coutrot, co-head of the ATTAC movement seeking alternatives to market-ruled policies, said the indignant movement had a healthy "allergy" to being represented by any person or group.
"But it is true that it is not easy to build a movement without a representative," he added.