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May 28, 2017

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Thousands protest at parliament in Madrid

MADRID -- Thousands of Spaniards massed outside parliament in Madrid Tuesday yelling in anger at government austerity cuts that they say are punishing the poor.

Surrounded by police in fleets of riot vans, the crowd gathered in front of police barriers blocking the road to the Congress where lawmakers were debating the 2013 budget, yelling slogans against cuts and political corruption.

Protestors taped scores of handwritten messages to the barrier, such as "Let them give back what they have stolen," in the latest of months of demonstrations driven by anger at politicians' handling of the economic crisis.

"People in the street feel like (lawmakers) don't respect us," said Noelia Urdiales, 34, a care assistant. "They are making cuts in health and education, affecting the most vulnerable."

The new budget plans 39 billion euros' worth of crisis savings measures, part of a plan to slash 150 billion euros from the budget between 2012 and 2014 with measures including pay cuts and tax rises.

Protestors yelled for the resignation of members of the two main political parties, the ruling conservative Popular Party and the opposition Socialists.

"I have come to shout and insult them," said Rafael Martinez, 48, an unemployed accountant.

"Spain is suffering from terrible corruption. The same hierarchy is in charge as in the time of Franco," the dictator who ruled Spain over four decades until he died in 1975.

The economic crisis, blamed on the collapse of a speculation-driven real estate boom, has plunged Spain into recession, throwing millions out of work and many families into poverty. Unemployment is close to 25 percent.

Tuesday's demonstration was a reprise of a mass gathering on Sept. 25 at which police charged protestors, with arrests and injuries.

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