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March for Dignity: Spain has 'had enough', say 2.5 million protesters
AN ESTIMATED two-and-a-half million people from all over Spain joined in the so-called 'March for Dignity' yesterday (Saturday) evening, with six columns of protesters converging from different angles on the centre of Madrid for the largest demonstration in the country's democratic history.
They carried huge banners calling for an end to funding cuts, the government to resign and the Troika to be kicked out, and campaigning for 'bread, jobs and a roof for everyone'.
Some of the participants, who marched from the central Atocha station from 17.00hrs as far as the Plaza de Colón, say their trek through Spain had shown them 'just how many people really have nothing'.
Pensioners joined in the march, saying the government has 'taken away all their rights'.
At the end of the march, journalist Olga Rodríguez and actor Willy Toledo read out a manifesto stating that the country, now in 2014, was 'in an extremely hard situation', had 'reached its limits' and 'had enough', and that the conditions of Spanish society had become a 'social emergency' pushing them to demand a 'collective and massive response' for the working-age population, society and the people.
“Millions of working-age men and women are unemployed. Having a pair of hands to work with, having finished university, having both manual and intellectual capacity and being unable to find a decent and worthy job is humiliating,” the manifesto read.
It called for 'all governments who reduce or cut out basic social rights' and who 'cooperate with Troika policies' to resign.
“These governments are using the financial crisis as an excuse – they are using it to their advantage in order to cut back on human rights. And these cuts are causing suffering, poverty, hunger and even death – all so that the banks and those with economic power can continue to enjoy great financial benefits at the cost of the quality of life, or even the life, of ordinary people.”
Although the mammoth march was peaceful, a very small crowd of participants began to cause trouble and disturbances and let off fireworks, leading to 24 of them being arrested and 70 people injured including at least seven National Police officers.
One officer is reputed to be in a 'serious condition' in the Nuestra Señora de América hospital in Madrid.
Witnesses say the 'level of resistance' of people caught in the middle of the riots was 'much stronger and more heartfelt' than during any previous demonstration in the capital, even ending with various riot shields being smashed.
PP politicians criticised the protest for being 'six columns of left-wing extremists led by an actor from Cuba, not even Spain'.
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