Thousands of miners are protesting across Spain today against proposed austerity measures which would see a 63 percent cut in mining subsidies, and leave 30,000 workers unemployed. Spain has recently received a €100 billion bailout for its banks and under new austerity measures has sought to cut government spending and reduce the current deficit in the country. The planned cuts in mining subsidies are said to reduce the deficit by €190 million. Mining communities in Asturias, Leon, Galicia and Aragon have been on strike for 3 weeks, with the unrest spreading throughout the country over the last few days. Nearly 8,000 miners from 40 coal mines are currently on strike, and union officials have reported that there is 100 percent participation in the strike among miners in the northern regions. Some are staging sit-ins and occupying the city square, while others have chosen to strike below ground. The below ground strike has been said to be highly dangerous and is being used as an attempt to speed up the process of negotiation with the government. Clashes have taken place almost daily, with miners saying they have nothing left to lose. They have shot firework rockets at police lines, and plumes of thick black smoke have become commonplace where tyres have been set alight to block roads. Police have responded with teargas and baton charges. Journalists covering the strikes have reported the use of rubber bullets, against both protesting miners and themselves. As the strike gains momentum groups of miners from Leon and Andorra have begun a walk to Madrid, to participate in a mass protest on July. The trek from Leon is 417 kilometres, and from Andorra is 490 kilometres. Vans carrying food, drink and basic healthcare will accompany the marches. Police helicopters have been reported hovering above marching miners. People are said to be lining the roads as the marches pass, with thousands of people showing their support for the miners. Their protest is one that resonates with the Spanish population as unemployment shows no sign of easing and extreme austerity measures are to implemented. Photographs via @CronicadeLeon, @FonsecAsturias and @MMunera.
Spain: Thousands of miners begin walk to Madrid in austerity cuts protest