Thousands of activists have begun to congregate in Madrid’s Plaza de Neptune, 100 meters from the Congress building, to protest Spanish austerity measures. The demonstrators pledged to march around the building, and called for new elections.
Protesters said that today is a key day to level criticism against politicians and the Spanish government. The city stationed armored police vehicles bumper-to-bumper around the parliament building, and announced that around 1,300 police would be deployed to counter the protesters.
The organizers of the protest dubbed their movement ‘Surround Congress,’ and expressed hopes that thousands would turn out. The protestors called themselves ‘indignants’ and claimed that their democracy had been ‘kidnapped,’ calling for new elections and rallies against the austerity measures enacted by Mariano Rajoy’s government.
Some 200 demonstrators gathered near the city’s main railway station chanting “Rescue democracy,” and “This is not a crisis, it’s a swindle.”
Carmen Rivero – a 40-year old photographer who travelled overnight by bus from the southern city of Granada – said, “We think this is an illegal government. We want the parliament to be dissolved, a referendum and a constituent assembly so that the people can have a say in everything.”
Another 100 protesters were scattered across the city’s main square, the Plaza de Espana.
“This is not a real democracy. This is a democracy kidnapped by the parties in collaboration with the economic powers and the people have no say in it,” said Romula Barnares, a 40-year-old artist wearing sunglasses with a dollar sign on one lens and a euro sign on another.
But Miguel-anxo Murado, a journalist and writer, told RT that he thought their demands are too vague and that they would not be successful, “it seems that they are back with the same very vague and ambitious platform and in-fact they have been over shadowed by a different constitutional challenge, which is for the independence movement in Catalonia, which is more likely to change the constitution, although in a different way, so I’m afraid they will probably not have a huge success today.”
Spain is in the middle of its second recession in two years, and faces a 25 percent unemployment rate.
Madrid introduced the controversial austerity measures in a gesture meant to show that it intends to fix its debt and budgetary shortfalls. The European Central Bank granted Spain a 100 billion euro rescue loan for its banks, but the country has not decided whether to seek another bailout.
Europe’s financial leaders are pleading for Spain to reduce volatility in its markets by deciding whether or not to request the second loan.
During a September 15 protest, waves of some 50,000 anti-austerity demonstrators converged in downtown Madrid, blowing whistles and hoisting banners that read, “They are destroying the country, we must stop them.” Representatives from over 230 civic and professional organizations also turned out amid cries of “lies,” and “enough.”