Madrid government delegate set upon by anti-austerity protestors
Cifuentes forced to take shelter inside restaurant after demonstrators shouted and spat at her
The central government delegate in Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, has been the predominant voice of the administration in its dealings with recent protests in the streets of Madrid. At the weekend, she quite by accident became the first government member to meet the protestors eye-to-eye while she was shopping in the capital. During the chance encounter, Cifuentes suffered a barrage of verbal abuse and was spat upon by some of those attending a rally organized by the Real Democracy Now platform, linked to the 15-M movement.
After praising the nation's coal miners for the peaceful manner of their "black march" to the capital last week to protest against cuts in subsidies to the sector, Cifuentes stated that the degeneration into violence that marked the end of the miners' rally had been the work of "anti-system radicals, some of them with numerous previous arrests for crimes against property." She also accused a minority of the protestors in Madrid's streets in recent weeks of wanting to turn the capital "into Athens."
After crossing paths with the Real Democracy Now protest last Friday, which had begun outside Popular Party headquarters and was passing through Cifuentes' neighborhood of Malasaña on its way toward the Socialist Party's building, the government delegate's viewpoint is unlikely to have been dimmed.
"I was in a world of my own when I suddenly realized the protest was passing by," Cifuentes said. Upon recognizing the politician, some of the protestors began to insult Cifuentes and to spit on her, calling for her resignation. As the multitude grew the government delegate was forced to seek shelter in a nearby Ethiopian restaurant. "I didn't want to go home because these individuals don't know where I live and they would not have stopped bothering me."
The employees of the restaurant led Cifuentes to a back exit, connected to an adjacent hotel. Even in apparent sanctuary Cifuentes was treated to a standoffish reception by the front desk employee, who explained in less-than-welcoming tones that if she was not a guest she could not stay in the lobby.
After the protestors had moved on, Cifuentes returned to her house. "They are not going to terrorize me with these violent attitudes," Cifuentes said after the confrontation. "I will continue to do my job, and they will not make me take a single step backward."