Demonstrators throw projectiles at a police van during clashes at the
end of a march dubbed "the Marches for Dignity 22-M" to protest against
austerity in Madrid on March 22, 2014 (AFP Photo / Gerard Julien)
Protesters clashed with police in Madrid as thousands of people
trekked across Spain to protest austerity which they claim is destroying
their country. Under the banner "no more cuts!" the protesters called
for an end to the government’s "empty promises."
Police arrested at least 29 protesters following the clashes
which took place after the march. According to emergency service,
101 people were injured - 67 of them police, El Mundo newspaper
Protesters were seen throwing stones and firecrackers at police.
According to witnesses, officers used tear gas to disperse the
Clashes broke out during a final speech at the demonstration when
protesters tried to break through a police barrier. Riot police
took charge by beating protesters with batons, AP reported.
“The mass rally was coming to an an end when reportedly a
group of younger protesters, who had masks on their faces,
started throwing rocks at the police. Police tried to push them
away from the parameter that they organized around this
area,” RT’s Egor Piskunov reported from the Spanish capital.
“They (police) tried to push them (protesters) away from
these police fences and then we started seeing firecrackers being
thrown at police and reportedly authorities started firing rubber
bullets at the protesters. As a result, there are injuries on
both sides and several people have been arrested as well.”
“I can confirm that there is very heavy police presence in
this whole district. Since it is the center of Madrid, there are
lots of luxury hotels
in this part of town and security here is
very tight,” he added.
Six “columns” of trains, cars and buses, as well as
bands of pedestrians have travelled from Extremadura, Andalusia,
Valencia, Murcia, Asturias, Galicia and Aragon, among other
Spanish regions, to converge on Madrid in mass protest this
Saturday. The demonstration itself has been dubbed 22-M, Marches
Eight groups of activists are expected to move into the Spanish
capital at different points throughout the course of the day. As
a precautionary measure, the Madrid authorities have closed roads
in the center of the city and asked people to use public
transport whenever possible on Saturday. In addition, the Spanish
authorities have deployed 1,650 riot police to keep the situation
under control in Madrid.
The protest movement is demanding an end to the so-called
Troika-style cuts in Spain, more jobs and affordable housing
“Why am I here? I’m sick of this government. With all the
promises they never fulfill. They said they were going to create
more jobs and lower the taxes but it’s a lie! Instead,
unemployment rose from 4 to 6 million. This is the only way we
can fight back,” one of the protestors, who had been on the
road since March 9, told RT correspondent Egor Piskunov.
A large proportion of the protesters who have made their way on
foot to the Spanish capital are unemployed and plan to camp in
Madrid until their demands are met.
“There are too many reasons: my sons have to work every day
from 8 in the morning to five of the next morning only for 400
euros per month! Also I'm a teacher and I know what cuts in the
public sector mean,” said another activist. “All these
evictions - this is insane. I'm marching to Madrid because I
can't walk to Berlin or Brussels. We must stop them and the
Hundreds of people are evicted from their homes every day in
Spain. The General Council of the Judiciary reported that 49,984
forced evictions had been carried out across the country last
year, which averages about 185 a day.
|A fireman stands in front of demonstrators, some of them waving flags of the Spanish second republic, during a march dubbed "the Marches for Dignity 22-M" to protest against austerity in Madrid on March 22, 2014. (AFP Photo / Gerard Julien)|
The number of evictions reached an all-time high in Spain in 2012
with over 500 a day, according to a report by the BBC. This
combined with an unemployment rate of 26 percent, the second
highest in Europe after Greece, has left many Spanish citizens
with nowhere to turn. This is reflected in the growing number of
suicides in the country, with the country’s National Institute of
Statistics estimating that at least 8 people take their lives
every day in the country.
Pepe Caballero, one of the organizers of the protests said the
Spanish government is trying to return Spain to the Franco era.
“What the government wants is to go back to the Franco years
and keep the working class from demonstrating in the streets and
saying what our main problems are. We won't allow that to happen
and they know it,” Caballero told RT, adding that the
protest movement will change Spain from the “bottom to the
At the beginning of this month, the Spanish Minister of
Employment Fatima Banez said that Spain had finally pulled itself
out of the recession and registered economic growth. However, the
Spanish Union of Workers dismissed Banez’s announcements as
|Anti-austerity demonstrators crowd into Colon square as they take part in a demonstration which organisers have labeled the "Marches of Dignity" in Madrid, March 22, 2014 (Reuters / Paul Hanna)|