MINERS marching into Madrid got a hero's welcome today after 19 days of walking from the northerly regions of Castilla y León, Aragón and Asturias.
They were met with mass cries of campeones, campeones and a por ellos, ¡oé!, in the same way as Spain cheered on its football team to victory in the Euro Cup.
The protesters had been marching daily singing Santa Bárbara Bendita, the anthem for the patron saint of mining.
Although the miners themselves only accounted for 200 of the demonstrators, the crowd which reached the capital today ran into thousands, with family members and supporters joining in and cheering them on.
They have made it as far as the university district, but still have a way to go – their ultimate destination is the Puerta del Sol square in the centre of the city.
Marching miners include the mayors of many of the local towns affected by the ministry of industry's decision to shut down the quarries in the north of Spain – and some of these mayors are also miners by trade.
Even those who belong to the PP party are railing against the system.
They intend to meet personally with minister for industry José Soria to discuss the mine closure.
Since the protest started in May, numerous incidences of rail traffic and road disruption have been reported due to concrete posts, bricks, fallen trees and metal barricades being used to block train lines and motorways.
Several miners staged lock-ins in their quarries and mayors did likewise at their town halls.
Recent riots sparking up as a result of the protest have led to 30 miners being arrested and two police officers injured.