At least 100 people have been injured after police clashed with demonstrators in Barcelona amid protests against the economic crisis and sky-high jobless rate in Spain.
Policemen swiped at protesters with batons, dragged them on the ground and even fired rubber bullets on Friday as they sought to disperse demonstrators and also dismantle their camp in the city’s Catalunya square, AFP reported.
Police said they had to clear the square for the celebrations that will spark if Barcelona beats Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League’s final match on Saturday.
This is while activists say cleaning the square was only a pretext to violate their democratic rights and have vowed to come back.
“They are making us leave because of the match but we will come back again here or somewhere else because our match is more important,” 42-year-old Albert Bonet, who took part in the protest, said.
The situation remains tense and some 200 people are still at the square and hundreds in the surroundings.
Since mid-May, Spain has been witnessing nationwide demonstrations against the government’s austerity measures and economic policies.
The protesters form part of the M-15 movement, which brought thousands of people to the streets ahead of Sunday’s local and regional elections.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s ruling Socialist Party suffered heavy losses in the elections.
Massive protests sparked across Spain after the government of Zapatero introduced a slew of drastic austerity measures, including the cutting of civil servant wages, as part of its plan to curb the budget deficit from 11 percent a year earlier to within three percent of the GDP by 2013.
Spain has the highest jobless rate in the eurozone with 21.3 percent and is saddled with a record 4.9 million people unemployed.
Although Spain has so far managed to stave off a bailout, economists expect that the eurozone’s fourth largest economy will inevitably follow Portugal, Ireland and Greece, and will be forced to accept a financial rescue package.
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