Spain’s growing crisis: police fire rubber bullets at Madrid crisis protest

Friday, July 20, 2012
By Paul Martin
July 20, 2012

SPAIN – Spanish police fired rubber bullets and charged protestors in central Madrid early Friday at the end of a huge demonstration against economic crisis measures. Thick smoke hung in the air from plastic bins set alight by protestors chased by police, who hit them with batons when some tried to reach the heavily-guarded parliament at the end of a mostly peaceful march. AFP reporters at the scene said dozens of protestors lingered, some throwing bottles at police, near the Puerta del Sol, the big square at the heart of the city where a march of hundreds of thousands wound up late Thursday. A police official told AFP that officers arrested seven people and six people were injured. Earlier, workers protesting against crisis pay cuts and tax hikes filled the streets of several Spanish cities, yelling and whistling in anger as they branded the government’s latest crisis measures ‘robbery.’ They were the latest and biggest in an almost daily series of protests that erupted last week when Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced measures to save 65 billion euros ($80 billion) and slash the public deficit. Among the steps is a cut to the Christmas bonus paid to civil servants, equivalent to a seven-percent reduction in annual pay. This came on top of a pay cut in 2010, which was followed by a salary freeze. “There’s nothing we can do but take to the street. We have lost between 10 and 15 percent of our pay in the past four years,” said Sara Alvera, 51, a worker in the justice sector, demonstrating in Madrid. “These measures won’t help end the crisis.” Spain is struggling with its second recession in four years and an unemployment rate of more than 24 percent. –Yahoo News

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