Mass protest against Spanish austerity ends in violence

 

Madrid

Tens of thousands of Spaniards took to the streets of Madrid on Saturday in the country’s biggest anti-austerity protest of the year – but the closing moments of a largely peaceful demonstration were tarnished by rioting, ending with 24 arrests and about 100 people injured.

Organised by left-wing political parties and trade unions, the protests attracted more than  40,000 demonstrators to the streets. They included some 2,500 marchers from six different columns who had taken part in month-long treks from as far afield as southern Andalusia, 300 miles away, timed to reach the Spanish capital for the protests.

The demonstrators were condemned as extremists by Spain’s right-wing press, with the head of Madrid’s regional government, Ignacio Gonzalez, asserting earlier this week that the protesters’ manifestos included similar proposals to Golden Dawn, the Greek far-right party. “The extremes end up joining,” he claimed.

However, most of the shouts and chants as the protest columns first merged at Atocha, the city’s main railway station, and then moved up the city’s central boulevard, simply seemed directed against the government’s economic policies.

“My daughter would be here but she had to emigrate,” one protester’s poster read. Another: “This is not a recession, it’s a fraud.” Many chanted in favour of “bread, work and roofs over our heads for everybody”.

Mamen Ruiz, a 32-year-old mother-of-two who belongs to a protest group fighting against evictions, told the newspaper El País: “If you don’t fight, they will control you.”

Despite the recession being officially over, austerity-driven tax increases and public spending cuts exacerbate the economic desperation felt by many Spaniards. What had been a peaceful cross-generation protest  was almost over when a small group of demonstrators attempted to force their way through to the Madrid headquarters of the ruling Partido Popular poltical party. The police then charged, with rioters hurling bottles, fireworks and stones and smashing windows and bus shelters along the central Paseo del Prado boulevard.

Among the injured were 55 police officers, with one was reported as being apparently repeatedly kicked in the head and lost consciousness. In total, 17 people needed hospital treatment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity is available to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leading specialist i...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer - Northern Home Counties

£27000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their revenue and profit have g...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy