Spain leader vows hard line as hundreds of thousands protest austerity

Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards marched Thursday in the first general strike against strangling austerity, only the most recent challenge to the new conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fending off resistance from all sides.

”œWe can’t take this anymore,” says Eva Cañamares, a station manager in Madrid’s subway system. Her 11 and 9-year old children were passing out union flags beside her in the central Puerta del Sol plaza, where tens of thousands chanted against government economic policies.

”œI’m here for my children. They are taking away all our rights and this also affects them,” Mrs. Cañamares says, echoing the strike’s slogans. ”œThey want to do away with everything…. The government just wants to take away everything and not even negotiate.”

By early evening, there were more than a dozen injuries, dozens of arrests, and violent clashes reported throughout Spain, but these were the exceptions to the mostly peaceful march.

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  • Violent protests erupt in Spain over government austerity measures

    Police make dozens of arrests as hundreds of demonstrators take to the streets in cities across Spain to demonstrate against government labour reforms.

    The Telegraph, March 29

    Scuffles broke out with police after demonstrators answered calls from Spain’s two main labour unions to walk-out and protest against a labour reform that would make it cheaper for companies to lay off staff.

    In Barcelona a group of protesters threw eggs and graffitied the city’s stock market while others burnt paper money.

    After their attack, some protesters tried to set up barricades on one of Barcelona’s main avenues, prompting police to detain several people.

    Video at the link.

    BBC In Pictures.

  • BBC, March 30

    Spain is cutting 27bn euros ($36bn; £22.5bn) from its budget this year as part of one of the toughest austerity drives in its history.

    Changes will include freezing public sector workers’ salaries and reducing departmental budgets by 16.9%.

    The government says it will raise 12.3bn euros this year, aided by an increase in tax for large companies.

    Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the nation was in an “extreme situation”.

    “Our top priority is to clean up public accounts,” she said.

    “This is a moment that demands serious efforts to reduce spending but also structural reforms to cause the economy to grow and create jobs.”

    But economists are questioning whether the cuts will be enough to satisfy Spain’s European partners.

    Eurozone crisis live: Spain announces €27bn of Budget savings

    The Guardian: Live Blogging

    €800bn euro firewall agreed.

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