Spaniards Rally Against Austerity: 'There Are Alternatives'

Massive demonstration in Madrid on Saturday pushes back against gov't cuts

Tens of thousands of Spaniards rallied in Madrid on Saturday to protest the austerity measures enacted by the government which demonstrators say are sparing the wealthy while hitting the middle and working class hard.

"We want to say loud and clear to the government that we do not agree, that its policies cause too much damage, that we will not resign ourselves because there are alternatives," Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, head of trade union CCOO, one of the organizers of the protest, told the rally.

One protester, Jose Antonio Domingo, who had come from San Sebastian de los Reyes, just north of Madrid, wore a black shirt with the words "we are poor and those at fault are rich," CNN reports.

Agence France-Presse gives some of the background of the cuts:

In July, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government eliminated public workers' annual Christmas bonuses, equivalent to a seven-percent reduction in annual pay, as part of austerity measures worth 102 billion euros ($126.5 billion) to be put in place by 2014 to reduce Spain's public deficit.

The measures also include a rise in the sales tax and cuts to jobless benefits in a nation with nearly 25 percent unemployment. They follow a reduction in public workers' salaries by an average of five percent in 2010.

CNN reports that the demonstrators on Saturday promised a "hot autumn" of many more protests to come.

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