Today the streets of cities around the world are full of protesters decrying the austerity measures that are affecting those least able to afford them.
As the Western world economies crumble before our very eyes, it would be difficult not to compare the events with the austerity measures that brought Greece to its knees earlier this year.
In Santiago, Chile, more than 70,000 people are in the second day of marches, demanding that the government stop subsidising private education and instead fund public schools which can be attended by everyone. Chilean police turned violent, spraying the young protesters with tear gas and water cannons. Over 100 people have been arrested.
In Madrid, Spain protesters chanted “Fire them! Fire them!” as they surrounded the Parliament building for the third time this week to decry the harsh austerity measures recently approved by the Spanish government, including tax hikes, government spending cuts and the highest unemployment rate among the 17 nations that use the euro currency.
Warsaw, Poland was the site for yet another protest against government austerity measures. Poles hit the streets, honking their horns, waving flags and praying in a movement dubbed “Wake Up, Poland”. The government has moved to raise the retirement age as well as other pro-market reforms that weaken the social safety net in an effort to reduce the national debt.
Over 10,000 people demonstrated in cities across Germany, protesting the gap between the rich and the poor. A protester dressed as McScrooge through fake money into the crowds, who are demanding a tax on the wealthiest 1% to offset the difference.
In Rome, 30,000 union members gathered for a general strike against recently passed austerity measures. People from all walks of life joined in, from garbage collectors to physicians, carrying signs that said, “Stop hitting the weakest. We have already given enough!” Staff at popular tourist attractions in Rome also walked off the job today.CGIL Union spokesperson Pio Zappaterreno told Reuters, “We are here to protest against Monti’s politics, because up until now he has just made the weakest pay.”
Tens of thousands of people in Lisbon, Portugal rallied against the bailout and upcoming austerity measures that will be undertaken in the new budget in order to meet the fiscal goals under its bailout from the European Union, European Central Bank and IMF, nicknamed the “Troika”. Protesters marched through the city chanting, “Let the fight continue” and carrying signs that read “Go to hell Troika, we want our lives back.”
Around the world, we are seeing the same story repeated again and again, as countries crumble, economies collapse, the poor become poorer, the rich become richer and the powerful gain more power. Tens of thousands of people around the world chose today to make their voices heard.
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