26/09/2012 Spain (BG) - According to the BBC, at least 20 people have been arrested and more than a dozen injured after violence broke out during a protest in the capital city of Madrid yesterday afternoon. It is understood Spanish police fired rubber bullets and baton-charged protesters attending the rally in a bid to restore order.
The clashes broke out as protesters attempted to break down barriers blocking access to the parliament in Madrid. The “Occupy Congress” protest was organised as the government prepares to announce further austerity measures on Thursday. It is attempting to cut its budget deficit, with the country in its second recession in three years and home to the highest unemployment rate in the E.U at over 25%.
The government will unveil the draft budget for 2013 on Thursday and is expected to announce new cost-cutting measures to reassure lenders about the state of the country’s economy and public finances.
The organisers of the demonstration, known as ‘Indignados’, claim ‘Occupy Congress’ is a protest against the kidnapping of democracy. Thousands of people gathered in Plaza de Neptuno square in central Madrid for the march but their route towards the main entrance of parliament building’s was obstructed by metal railings, police vans and hundreds of Spanish riot police.
Yesterdays protest was organised via social media sites and a large number of young people attended said BBC’s Tom Burridge in Madrid, but the protest’s public profile meant the police were expecting them.
Buses had also reportedly been booked to transport demonstrators into the capital from neighbouring provinces. One of the leading protest groups, ‘Coordinadora #25S’ said the Indignados did not intend on storming the parliament, only march around it.
Pablo Mendez, an activist from the 15M Indignants movement, told the Associated Press: "This is just a powerful signal that we are sending to politicians to let them know that the Spanish bailout is suicide and we don't agree with it, and we will try to prevent it happening."
Violence has also broken out at previous ‘Indignados’ demonstrations. Under current Spanish law, anyone who leads demonstrations outside parliament that disrupt its business while it is in session can be jailed for up to one year, AFP states.