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The Spanish revolt

Por: | 13 de julio de 2012

Spaniards have finally lost patience with their government and are showing their anger through a series of protests

Miners madrid

Having lived in Spain during the past year when unemployment figures rose by 4% to 24%, the highest in Europe, I have noticed that Spaniards have been, well, how to put this, calm. Not a trait usually attributed to Spaniards, I have been surprised at many of my colleagues’ and friends’ attitudes towards the economic crisis. Many people have taken an almost resigned attitude, no one likes or particularly supports the cuts, of course, but many people feel that they are necessary to get Spain out of recession. 

With the exception of the one day general strike on 29 March this year, there has been little unrest, certainly nothing to rival the Greeks, who have seen a tumultuous year of, sometimes shocking, acts of protest, such as the 77-year old man who shot himself outside the Greek parliament, writing in a suicide note that the government had cut his pension to nothing. Nothing even close to the kind of unrest that has occurred in Greece has hit Spain, but this week, there have been signs that perhaps Spaniards’ patience has been tested too far, that maybe Spaniards have just had enough. 

On Tuesday evening, thousands of miners, some of whom had marched for days from the north of Spain, marched down the Gran Vía, Madrid’s main street, their headlamps lit. They made for an impressive and arresting sight. They were marching towards the Industry ministry to protest against plans to slash coal industry subsidies from €301m last year to €111m this year. Unions say the cuts threaten 30,000 jobs and could destroy their industry.


Wednesday saw yet more protesting along the Castellana, once of Madrid’s main streets, towards the Industry Ministry, with police firing rubber bullets at crowds of protestors. Photographs published soon after showing a blood-soaked woman show how suddenly serious the atmosphere of protest has become in Madrid. Wandering down the Castellana yesterday after the protest outside the Ministry of Industry, banners bearing slogans of, ‘Sin pan, sin paz‘ (without bread, without peace),justicia’ (justice) and ‘no’ next to a picture of some scissors (no cuts) lay strewn across the street. 

On Thursday, civil servants protested against the planned cuts to their Christmas bonus pay, stopping traffic on some of Madrid’s main streets. They are planning to reconvene to protest at midday and six o’clock everyday from now on. 

There was a sense at the beginning of Rajoy’s presidency that, despite not necessarily liking him or his party, he was only doing what was necessary to rescue Spain. Now, after breaking a campaign pledge not to raise taxes, Rajoy risks turning the entire population against him. 

“I said I would reduce taxes and I am increasing them...the circumstances have changed and I have to adapt myself to them”, Mr Rajoy said. 

Many Spaniards are becoming desperate and there are very few who have not felt the difficult effects of government cuts.They are less inclined to give Rajoy the benefit of the doubt, and now protesting has really got going, protests could very well continue and increase over the coming weeks. Reactions look set to get angrier as an increasing number of Spaniards feel the effects of even more cuts. 

Photograph - agm92 (Flickr)

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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

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