Spain Anti-Austerity Protests Continue into Second Night Following Clashes, Arrests
Anti-austerity protests continued for a second consecutive night in Madrid on Wednesday. Thousands of protesters filled the streets throughout the day on Wednesday, some facing off with police who had beaten protesters with batons and fired rubber bullets into the crowds the night before.
Prime Minister Rajoy still plans on announcing a new round of drastic austerity measures on Thursday, despite national outrage, including public sector pay cuts, privatization of public assets, tax increases, and a raise in retirement age by two years.
The Bank of Spain said Wednesday that the country is entering an extreme depression, but protesters argue that more cuts to public budgets are not the answer and will be devastating to the county's struggling middle and working classes. Currently Spain continues to suffer a 26% unemployment rate as 22% of Spanish households now live below the poverty line.
Today, as thousands continued to gather outside of barricades, which were set up to blockade Spain’s Parliament building, many chanted "government, resign" and held signs simply saying “No” as a sign of refusal to the ongoing austerity program.
Katharine Ainger writes for the Guardian today:
The attempt by the Spanish "Occupy" movement, the indignados, to surround the Congress in Madrid has been compared by the secretary general of the ruling rightwing People's party (PP) to an attempted coup.
Spanish democracy may indeed be in peril, but the danger is not in the streets. According to the Financial Times, the EU has been in secret talks with the economy minister Luis de Guindos to implement further austerity measures in advance of Spain requesting a full bailout. On Thursday the government will announce structural reforms and additional spending reductions, on top of the already huge cutbacks in health and education. [...]
The government is right to fear the Spanish public's reaction to this new round of suffering mandated by the financial markets. Already many protest signs say: "We can't take any more."
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