PROTESTS

Marches against austerity cuts reach outskirts of Madrid

Six columns from all parts of Spain set to converge on the capital on Saturday

Members of the Andalusian column enter Parla, on the outskirts of Madrid. / Kike Para (EL PAÍS)

A sea of symbols is advancing along the M-480 motorway between Pinto and Parla. There are flags representing the Andalusian region, the Second Spanish Republic and the CGT anarchosyndicalist labor union. There are posters and t-shirts referencing homeowners support groups Stop Desahucios and the Mortgage Victims Platform (PAH), alongside many more.

In total six columns of protestors from different corners of the country – Andalusia; Extremadura; Murcia and Valencia; Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre; La Rioja; and Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria – will be converging in Madrid on Saturday to protest the budget cuts “dictated by the Troika,” a reference to the trio comprising the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank that has established economic policy for the countries that received a bailout (Spain had a bank bailout, not a full-blown rescue like Ireland, Portugal and Greece).

We are here to kick out our friends from the Troika”

Many of the protestors taking part in the so-called “Marches of dignity” are unemployed, like 26 percent of the Spanish population. But mostly the demonstration represents all the social movements that have grown out of the crisis, including anti-eviction activists and supporters of political reform. All of them are protesting the cuts to health, education and other public services.

The Andalusian column comprises over 350 members from a variety of backgrounds. “We are here to kick out our friends from the Troika,” said Pepe Cortés, 58, who is from Cádiz. He took a bus to Córdoba on March 16 and walked from there to Madrid. He has only 23 kilometers left to go of his near 350-kilometer journey. An electrician, he feels confident that the march will be a success. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” he says.

But Madrid authorities will not be welcoming them with open arms. Regional premier Ignacio González, of the center-right Popular Party, has already attacked the marchers.

“The same things you find in their manifesto are also in the political program of Golden Dawn, a Greek neo-Nazi group,” he said.

 

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