Spain burns as strikes bring nation to its knees

Nine injured and scores are arrested as austerity protest descends into violence

by Alasdair Fotheringham, The Independent (UK)

Friday, 30 March 2012 — A nationwide general strike fuelled by a groundswell of anger against crippling unemployment levels and severe ongoing austerity cuts culminated in dozens of large-scale evening demonstrations across Spain yesterday.

Approximately a quarter of a million protesters took to the streets in Barcelona, with some fringe groups attacking police vans and smashing shop windows until late into the evening. In contrast Madrid’s almost equally large demonstration, where the crowds of chanting, whistling protestors filled the emblematic Puerto del Sol square and surrounding streets to bursting point, was reported as being totally peaceful.

“There’s lots of people here, but we need even more, this country is going through an awful situation and its going to get worse,” young protester Luis Ferrer, on the dole for three months, told The Independent in Madrid’s demonstration.

“If we don’t make ourselves heard now, we never will. I don’t think we’re going to end up like Greece, but they’re using this recession to take away our rights as workers.It’s just an excuse.”

“The labour reforms they want to bring in are terrible and our wages are awful,” Jose, a protestor in his twenties, added. “They want us to work more and more, put up taxes too and that’s just not on.” Continue reading

Iraq: Result of US’ “nation-building” project faces new challenges

Protesters converge on Iraq capital

Thousands of Iraqis take to the streets across the country to protest against corruption and unemployment.
04 Mar 2011

“]Thousands of people have converged on Baghdad’s Tahrir, or Liberation, Square to protest against corruption and unemployment, despite a vehicle ban that forced many to walk for hours to the heart of the Iraqi capital. 

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf reported from Baghdad that the situation was heading towards a stand-off, as security forces demanded the protesters leave, blocking their route across a bridge leading to the Green Zone, where the government has its base.

Concrete blocks were set up by authorities on all of Baghdad’s bridges ahead of the protests.

“What we’re seeing here is a bit of a test, of how the government will respond when these people clearly want their demands to be heard,” Arraf said.

The protests in Iraq are growing in size, partly because of the instability of the coalition government formed by Nouri al-Maliki, the country’s prime minister, Arraf said.

Iraqis are increasingly unwilling to accept the nature of the democracy that has emerged in years after Saddam’s regime was overthrown.

“This is a new democracy, it’s an unusual democracy, and it’s not exactly what people bargained for,” she said. Continue reading