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Issue #1557      25 July 2012

Anti-cuts protests sweep across Spain

Hundreds of thousands of angry Spaniards protested in 80 cities across Spain last week against the government’s latest austerity measures. Protesters flooded Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square and the streets in front of parliament long into the night, facing riot police at barricades.

Police fired rubber bullets and charged protesters in central Madrid in an attempt to disperse them. Fifteen people were arrested and 39 hurt.

Large crowds also gathered in Barcelona and Bilbao. El Pais estimated that more than 100,000 had attended the rally in the capital alone.

Marchers in Madrid carried Spanish flags bearing black bows for mourning and banners saying: “No to the cuts” and “You have ruined us.” The country’s parliament has just passed its latest round of harsh austerity measures.

The ruling conservative Popular Party used its majority in Parliament to push through the measures, which include a rise in VAT and a wage cut for civil servants.

The government also published details of the €100 billion loan from the eurozone countries to shore up its crisis-hit banks. The Economy Ministry said that the cash will be offered until December 2013 at a variable interest rate.

The latest round of spending cuts and tax increases will lop €65bn off the government’s budgets by 2015.

Eurozone countries have told the Spanish government that it must reduce its budget deficit to under three percent of the country’s gross domestic product by 2014, despite one in four people being out of work.

Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro parroted the EU mantra in parliament, insisting that Spain simply cannot go deeper into debt.

“Financing public services with more deficit and more debt will doom us,” he told MPs. But Socialist opposition leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba accused the government of acting as a puppet to Brussels with too much cutting back at a time when so many people in Spain are out of work.

“Catch a plane to Brussels and tell them these cuts are a barbarity,” he said.

Morning Star  

Next article – “War on drugs” leaves Latin American women’s lives in ruins

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