Tens of Thousands in Spain March to Protest Economic Crisis

Posted June 19th, 2011 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Tens of thousands of Spaniards have marched in Madrid to protest high unemployment and the government's handling of an economic crisis.

Police say about 40,000 people converged on the Spanish capital's Neptune plaza near parliament from six locations around the city Sunday. The protesters call themselves “indignant” about Spain's nearly two-year-long recession. They included the young and old, the employed and the unemployed.

Police stepped up their presence in Madrid to prevent violence. There were no reports of unrest.

Spaniards angered about the economic situation have been staging regular protests in Madrid since May 15. The movement later spread to other parts of the country.

Demonstrations also were planned Sunday in the northern city of Barcelona and the eastern city of Valencia.

Many protesters blame the crisis on banks and inept politicians. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has tried to ease the country's large debt burden by cutting government spending, raising the retirement age, and making it easier for companies to fire workers.

Spain reported an unemployment rate of 21 percent in the first quarter of this year – the highest in the 17-nation euro zone.