Spaniards poured onto the streets on Friday evening to protest the government's biggest austerity drive in the history of its democracy.
Protesters carried signs reading, "They call it democracy, and it isn't" while some neared the headquarters of the Popular Party (PP) of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Madrid and shouted "Resign, resign!"
"With these cuts, they are ruining us," said protester Pedro Lopez, a former law student now facing an employment freeze.
Protesters were met with police force (see video below) and several arrests.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
Support Our People-Powered Media Model Today
If you believe the survival of independent media is vital to a healthy democracy, please step forward with a donation to nonprofit Common Dreams today:
The protest catalyst was Rajoy's $80-billion austerity package announced this week that cuts a Christmas payment for civil workers, raises sales tax, eliminates some civil worker benefits and raises the retirement age.
Protesters' messages echo anger in the U.S. over corporate tax dodgers and the socialization of losses. "The government should go after the big companies that don't pay tax and bankers that have committed fraud and have run this country to the ground," said Pablo Gonzalez, who works for the Madrid regional government. "Instead, we have to pay."
Friday's protest is on the heels of demonstrations by Spanish miners and thousands of their supporters to protest cuts, and follows months of public anger over austerity.
* * *