Police Fire Rubber Bullets At Spanish Protesters

Austerity protesters in Spain have launched a new movement dubbed "Occupy Congress." They are surrounding the Spanish Parliament with a human chain. After more than a year of mostly peaceful protests, this one got violent.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


People aren't getting much work done in parts of Europe, treading water there. Greek workers called a nationwide strike for today, protesting austerity measures. Last night, there were violent protests in Spain. Demonstrators launched a new movement dubbed Occupy Congress, surrounding the Spanish Parliament with a human chain before clashing with police.

Lauren Frayer was in the crowd in Madrid.


LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Thousands of Spaniards rallied outside parliament, the symbol of Spanish power and increasingly the target of anger over the dismal economy. Spain has Europe's highest jobless rate, near 25 percent.

Silvia Alvarez is a public school teacher forced to take a pay cut amid government austerity measures. She blames Spain's ruling conservatives.

SILVIA ALVAREZ: They just do what the companies tell them and the banks tell them. And I think as citizens, we have to go outside into the streets to claim our rights to say no to the politics, because that is the real democracy.

FRAYER: After more than a year of mostly peaceful protests, this one got violent.


FRAYER: Riot police fired rubber bullets. More than 60 people were hurt, and dozens arrested. Tomorrow, Spain unveils a 2013 draft budget expected to include more cuts to health care, education and early retirement programs. Madrid desperately wants to avoid a second, larger EU bailout beyond what it's already getting for its troubled banks. But rapid cutbacks can be destabilizing, says economist Gonzalo Garland at Madrid's IE Business School.

GONZALO GARLAND: More adjustments leads to more recession, and more recession makes it you not being able to comply with the objective. And therefore you have to adjust a second time, and therefore you fall further into a recession, and therefore - this is what is dangerous.

FRAYER: Unemployment is rising, tax revenue is falling, and several Spanish regions say they're nearly broke. Spain may have no choice but to turn to Europe for help. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer, in Madrid.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.