Spain's 'Indignados' Want Greater Say In Politics
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
The president is in Ireland this morning at the start of a six day European trip. We'll hear more President Obama's Irish trip. But first to Spain, where young people have taken to the streets to protest austerity measures and joblessness. Youth unemployment in Spain is among the highest in Europe, with some estimates putting it as high as 45 percent. Sylvia Poggioli reports from Madrid, where tens of thousands of people are occupying the main square.
SYLVIA POGGIOLI: Unidentified Woman: (Spanish language spoken)
POGGIOLI: At the food stand, Antonio Gomez says local restaurants help feed the campers.
ANTONIO GOMEZ: (Unintelligible) bread, cheese, and also vegetables and fruit, because there's many people are vegetarian.
POGGIOLI: A group of middle aged women brings bags of food.
FLOR GONZALEZ: (Foreign language spoken)
POGGIOLI: The sit-in started a week ago. It took everyone by surprise. On Monday, 300 people came. On Tuesday, police moved them out. Twitter and Facebook did the rest. By Wednesday, thousands were camping out, not only in Madrid, but also in a dozen other cities. Forty-two-year-old lawyer Cristina Ruiz is thrilled to be part of a civic society in-the-making.
CRISTINA RUIZ: (Through translator) In Spain, we don't have experience with feeling like a community and feeling power of citizenship.
POGGIOLI: The movement has no leaders. Its members are not just bohemians and leftists, but also conservatives. What they share is anger, lack of opportunities and the sense they've been deprived of their future. Juan Lopez is one of several spokesmen of what the media calls the new Spanish revolution.
JUAN LOPEZ: We are not against the system, but we want a change in the system. Also we think that the voice of the people is not being listened. We want a change in the future, not in the future, we want a change in the present, we demand a change and we want it right now.
POGGIOLI: So far, Spain has not needed an international bailout like Greece, Ireland and Portugal. But tough austerity measures have left the economy stagnant. Many slogans here take aim at international finance. Marketing analyst Xavier Leon lost his job two years ago and he's got a heavy mortgage. He blames the banks.
XAVIER LEON: The bankers from Lehman Brothers, Barclays bank, Spanish bankers, OK, all must be in jail.
POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Madrid.
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