Spanish activists angered by grim economic prospects planned nationwide demonstrations today to mark the one-year anniversary of their protest movement.
Spain is in deep economic difficulty, prompting fears it may need a bailout such as that in Ireland, Greece and Portugal.
Spain is in recession, and unemployment stands at almost 25% – the highest among the 17 countries using the euro. One in two Spaniards under the age of 25 is out of work.
The conservative government has enacted deep spending cuts to reduce the national debt, but many people blame those measures for deepening families’ financial plight.
The protests began on May 15 last year and drew hundreds of thousands of people calling themselves the Indignant Movement. The demonstrations spread across Spain and Europe as anti-austerity sentiment grew.
A year ago, the “indignados” pitched tents and occupied town and city squares across Spain for weeks. Demonstrators clashed with police who eventually moved in to evict them.
The mostly young protesters aimed to occupy Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol plaza tonight and stay for three days. But authorities have warned they won’t allow anyone to camp out overnight, and up to 2,000 riot police will be on duty in the capital.
“We are here today to celebrate one year since the ... movement started and though we have achieved some things the situation is much worse now, so we need to keep fighting to get things better and that’s why we are here today,” said 40-year-old activist Ana Pancorvo.
Protests were also planned in other European cities, including London.