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#23F: Citizens' Tide of Austerity Protests Swamps Spain

Feb 23 marks the anniversary of an attempted coup in 1981 by right-wing military forces

Craig Brown, staff writer

Protestors carry a banner which reads "Shame on you" during a demonstration against austerity measures and political corruption in Valencia, February 23, 2013. REUTERS/Heino Kalis

Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards marched across Spain Saturday in a massive "citizens' tide" of protests against austerity.

Protest groups joined forces under the slogan "Citizens' Tide, 23F," choosing February 23 since it marks the anniversary of an attempted coup in 1981 by right-wing officers who tried to crush Spain's young democracy and restore military rule.

Today's protest organizers say Spain is facing a new coup -- a "financial coup" -- and called on people to march against what they said was government favoritism toward banks and monied interests at the expense of the 99%.

Spaniards have been enraged by austerity cutbacks and tax hikes imposed by the  conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Spain is in its second recession in three years and has 26 percent unemployment.

The movement unites workers in various sectors such as teachers, nurses, doctors, students and miners, with groups such as environmentalists and small political parties.

"We are all indignant and think the measures adopted by the government are wrong, especially considering they did not say they would adopt them before the elections when people voted them into office," said Sergio Sosa, a 46-year-old employee of Iberia airlines told the Associated Press.

"We have come because of it all -- unemployment, corrupt politicians, the young people who have no future -- it's a combination of everything," said Luis Mora, 55, a construction worker.

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