Thousands of anti-austerity demonstrators marched in the Spanish capital Saturday calling for the conservative government to resign because of its severe budget cuts.
“They don’t represent us”, “More education fewer police”, demonstrators shouted as dozens of police vehicles followed the march to near the parliament building which was cordoned off.
A large banner read “No to the debt budget”.
Demonstrators held a minute’s silence, sitting down and holding their arms up in the air before they shouted “resign” with their fists clenched.
“I came to demonstrate because they’re taking everything away, our health, our education, our houses,” said 50-year-old demonstrator Sabine Alberdi, referring to the budget cuts that hit large swathes of the population and the expulsion of endebted homeowners in a country where one in four people are without a job.
Spain’s so-called Indignant movement has protested for a month near the parliament building against the 2013 budget cuts of 39 billion euros which are currently being debated by lawmakers.
Overall, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government plans spending cuts of 150 billion euros between 2012 and 2014 to balance the country’s public finances.
“This budget means more cuts for employees, to pay the sovereign debt they work against people’s interests,” fumed 50-year-old Jose Ruiz Fernandez from the southern city of Almeria.
“We will continue to demonstrate to defend our rights, against the budget cuts,” said Rosa Romero, 21, who had travelled hundreds of kilometres (miles) from southern Granada to join the protest.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of police officers in plain clothes from across Spain demonstrated against the cuts of pay and benefits outside the interior ministry. A banner read: “The police can’t take it any more”.
“We came to express our anger at the way the government treats us, not only because they have removed Christmas bonuses, but also because they are eliminating our rights,” said Fran Estacio, a 33-year-old officer from Valencia, in eastern Spain.
Starting January 1, he said, they will lose three of the six days of supplementary holidays that police officers are allowed every year, in addition to their regular vacation.
They will also see cuts to their salary during sick leave.