Spanish riot police fired rubber bullets into today’s mass demonstration in support of striking miners in Madrid.
Meanwhile Spain’s right wing government has announced a new wave of cuts.
The police attack broke up the protest. Enormous crowds had marched on the Ministry of Industry alongside the miners.
They have been on strike for over a month against subsidy cuts that would destroy their livelihoods.
Olvidio Gonzalez, a 67 year old retired miner, was hit in leg by a rubber bullet. “We were walking peacefully to get to where the union leaders were speaking and they started to fire indiscriminately,” he said. “There was no warning.”
Helios Alonso from En Lucha, Socialist Worker’s sister organisation in Spain, was on the march. “There’s a lot of discontent among Spanish workers,” he said. “But the miners have brought us hope that we can win the battle against austerity.”
The demonstration was marked by chants against cuts, banks and the government, and in celebration of workers’ power, he added. Musicians played strike songs from the 1936 Spanish Revolution.
This was an official demonstration, called by the largest trade union federations in Spain, the UGT and CCOO. But that didn’t stop the police using an unprecedented level of violence.
Sam Robson was there when police came out of the ministry and opened fire with rubber bullets. “We took shelter in a metro station,” he told Socialist Worker.
“But it was impossible to get back out—as soon as anyone tried they would get shot at. I was amazed to see this level of repression, especially on an official demonstration.”
Meanwhile in parliament Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy announced a further £50 billion of “savings”—including a VAT hike, cuts to unemployment benefit and public sector wages, and privatisation of ports, airports and rail assets.
But ordinary people are determined to fight back. “We’ll do whatever it takes,” said Antonio, a miner from the Asturias region.
“We’ve lost more than 40 days of pay, but we know that we have to do this if we want a future. It’s a fight for us all—and it’s a fight to the end.”
Today’s solidarity demonstration follows ecstatic scenes last night as the miners’ march entered Madrid.
Supporters chanted “This is our team!”—a swipe at the jingoism associated with Spain’s recent win in the Euro 2012 football tournament.
The miners are often called “la negra” (the black one) instead of “la roja” (the red one)—the name given to the Spanish football team.