Anti-austerity protesters flooded the streets of 56 cities across Spain Sunday to express anger over continual cuts to the public budget that are reaching deep into the pockets of middle and working class citizens.
Organizers claim 72,000 people showed up for the march in Madrid, which was organized by Spain's two major unions CCOO and UGT. Union leaders Ignacio Fernández Toxo of CCOO and Cándido Méndez of UGT criticized the government’s budget slated for next year, saying that “it will only bring more recession and more unemployment.” The projected jobless rate for 2013 is 25 percent. Youth unemployment has passed 50 percent.
"How can there be peace without bread?" and "Their plunder, my crisis," signs read.
"They want to ruin the country. We have to stop them," a banner read at the head of the rally in Madrid.
The country has been torn by cuts to the public budget, as the Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy continues to maneuver to gain bailout loans for the banking sector from the Eurozone.
Budget cuts over three years under Rajoy's policy are projected to total 150 billion euros ($195 billion).
Trade union leaders warned that the marches would not stop and that a general strike was imminent if policies did not change immediately.
"It's up to the government whether there's a general strike or not. If they were going to hold a referendum things would be completely different," said Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, leader of Spain's biggest union, Comisiones Obreras.
Toxo said a likely date for the strike could be as early as November 14th.
A survey conducted by Spanish newspaper El Pais on Sunday showed 77 per cent of Spaniards support the protesters and more than 90 per cent think protests will become even more frequent.