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"No More Cuts!": Crowds Surround Spain's Congress

Calling for resignations of leaders, thousands gather to protest austerity-riddled budget proposals

Common Dreams staff

Surrounded by police in fleets of riot vans, thousands of protesters gathered outside of Spain's Congress building in Madrid Tuesday to voice their continued opposition to the austerity measures pushed by the Rajoy government and the two ruling parties.

The anti-austerity contigent, led by the indignados youth movement, is also pushing for a national referendum on austerity policies. reports:

... The crowd gathered in front of police barriers blocking the road to the Congress where lawmakers were debating the 2013 budget, yelling slogans against cuts and political corruption.

Protestors taped scores of handwritten messages to the barrier, such as "Let them give back what they have stolen", in the latest of months of demonstrations driven by anger at politicians' handling of the economic crisis.

"People in the street feel like (lawmakers) don't respect us," said Noelia Urdiales, 34, a care assistant. "They are making cuts in health and education, affecting the most vulnerable."

The new budget plans 39 billion euros' worth of crisis savings measures, part of a plan to slash 150 billion euros from the budget between 2012 and 2014 with measures including pay cuts and tax rises.

Protestors yelled for the resignation of members of the two main political parties, the ruling conservative Popular Party and the opposition Socialists.

"I have come to shout and insult them," said Rafael Martinez, 48, an unemployed accountant.

"Spain is suffering from terrible corruption. The same hierarchy is in charge as in the time of Franco," the dictator who ruled Spain over four decades until he died in 1975.

The government, ahead of today's convergence, worried that protesters would storm the parliamentary building and called for heightened security measures and issued warnings to the protest movement.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz, according to El Pais, said early Tuesday morning that the PP government will not tolerate any type of incursions or attempts to take over the parliament building, which some organizers of the demonstrations have stated to be their ultimate goal.

Prensa Latina reports:

25S Coordinate members believe that debating and voting on budgets in the Parliament represents a meaningless ritual, and emphasize that Tuesday´s demonstration will be their contribution to "the monologue that will take place inside the building."

"We will call for action and will surround the Parliament as long as necessary until we get our democracy back," noted the 25S Coordinate after urging citizens to return to Neptuno Square next Thursday and Saturday.

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