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MADRID — Spain’s government was hit hard by the country’s financial crisis on multiple fronts Tuesday as protestors enraged with austerity cutbacks and tax hikes clashed with police near Parliament, a separatist-minded region set elections seen as an independence referendum and the nation’s high borrowing costs rose again
More than 1,000 riot police blocked off access to the Parliament building in the heart of Madrid, forcing most protesters to crowd nearby avenues and shutting down traffic at the height of the evening rush hour.
Police used batons to push back some protesters at the front of the march attended by an estimated 6,000 people as tempers flared, and some demonstrators broke down barricades and threw rocks and bottles toward authorities.
Television images showed officers beating protesters in response, and an Associated Press television producer saw five people dragged away by police and two protesters bloodied. Spanish state TV said at least 28 were injured, including two officers, and that 22 people were detained. Independent Spanish media reported higher numbers that could not immediately be confirmed.
The demonstration, organized with an “Occupy Congress” slogan, drew protesters from all walks of life weary of nine straight months of painful economic austerity measures imposed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his solid majority of lawmakers. Smaller demonstrations Tuesday attracted hundreds of protesters in Barcelona and Seville.
Angry Madrid marchers who got as close as they could to Parliament, 250 meters (yards) away, yelled “Get out!, Get out! They don’t represent us! Fire them!”
“The only solution is that we should put everyone in Parliament out on the street so they know what it’s like,” said Maria Pilar Lopez, a 60-year-old government secretary.
Lopez and others called for fresh elections, claiming the government’s hard-hitting austerity measures are proof that the ruling Popular Party misled voters when it won power last November in a landslide.
While Rajoy has said he has no plans to cut pensions for Spaniards, Lopez fears her retirement age could be raised from 65 to as much as 70. Three of her seven nieces and nephews have been laid off since Rajoy ousted Spain’s Socialists, and she said the prospect of them finding jobs “is very bleak.”
Here, I will be shedding light on the real issues that we face everyday. Instead of taking sides, I will bring you information that will unite us rather than divide us. Our world today is full of opinionated idiots whose job is to only separate and confuse us. This has brought us to the brink. Media continues to reduce our world to talking points and mindless mantras. If we continue on this path we will be blindly led to our servitude. Let us come together and unite against those that wish to dumb us down and herd us like cattle to the slaughter. So today, I say, "Wake Up, Stand Up, and Be Heard!"