By Sarah White
MADRID, July 21 Hundreds of unemployed Spaniards
who had walked hundreds of kilometres (miles) to Madrid joined
protests on Saturday against Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's
government and its handling of an economic crisis.
Demonstrations have swollen across Spain since the
centre-right government announced 65 billion euros in new
spending cuts two weeks ago to cut its deficit and avert a
full-blown bailout, with firefighters and police joining a mass
protest on Thursday.
Several hundred people journeyed on foot from the southern
region of Andalucia, which has one of the worst unemployment
rates in Spain, and from northern Catalonia and other areas in
an attempt to highlight the plight of the unemployed in
recession-hit Spain, where almost one in four is without a job.
"I joined the Barcelona-Madrid march, the march for dignity,
and I'm protesting to get a decent job ... and against the cuts
and what they are doing to citizens," said Tania Faturechi, 30.
After demonstrating outside the Ministry for Employment
earlier in the day, in the evening protesters banging drums,
blowing vuvuzelas and chanting "Unemployed, wake up!" marched
towards Madrid's Puerta del Sol, a central square that has seen
hundreds of thousands demonstrate against government austerity.
They were joined by members of the "Indignados" (Indignant)
movement, which has organised sit-ins at the square for more
than a year.
"This is our home!" the crowds sang as they spilled into the
square. Many bore banners railing against the markets squeezing
Spain's finances, with slogans such as "Debt is modern-day
slavery" or "Unemployed against the risk premium".
Violence erupted at a miners' protest earlier this month and
police used teargas and rubber bullets.
The government is trying to avert a full-scale bailout after
being forced to ask euro zone leaders for up to 100 billion
euros to help ailing banks in the zone's fourth-largest economy.
Rajoy has pushed through the 65 billion euros of spending
cuts and tax rises to meet deficit targets set by Brussels that
are widely blamed in Spain for pushing the economy back into
recession for another year.
One of the government's most controversial cuts will affect
unemployment benefits, set to be reduced for the newly jobless.
Spain's borrowing costs have continued to climb to record
highs, reaching a peak on Friday after the Valencia region asked
for financial help and the government unveiled gloomy economic
The economy is likely to remain stuck in recession next year
and unemployment will drop only slightly in the next three
years, the government said.