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Spain, Greece and Italy Face Summer Unrest

Spain, Greece and Italy Face Summer Unrest

Europe has dominated headlines in recent weeks, with the election of France’s new president François Hollande, and the crumbling state of Greece as leaders grapple with the country’s possible exit from the Euro and repeated and failed attempts to form a new government. Austerity measures often feature heavily within these debates about the state of the European Union, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel often touted as the fiscally conservative head of the austerity movement.

Now officials worry that the unrest in the Mediterranean countries of Greece, Spain and Italy could hurt tourism and deal another heavy financial blow to the European Union. Italy and Greece rocked the headlines last week when an anarchist group shot Ansaldo Energia in the leg, the head of a nuclear engineering firm.

The Guardian reports that the group left behind a letter to explain their motives. According to the Guardian:

Authors of the letter claiming responsibility [for shooting Ansaldo Energia in the leg] said they were the Olga cell of the Fedarazione Anarchiste Informale (FAI). The group said it was named after Olga Ikonomidou, one of eight anarchists jailed in Greece. They said there would be seven more attacks to avenge the jailing of the other activists.

Perhaps on a less violent note, but still in the throes of financial discord and hardship, Spain has also had a surge of protests and rallies over the last year. The indignados (“the angry ones” in English) have been protesting for the last year in a style similar to that of Occupy Wall Street in the United States.

In mid-May, anti-austerity protesters in Spain converged in city squares across the country to mark the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the indignado movement. This pulling together of protesters also reflects the deep economic hurt felt by thousands of Spanish citizens. NPR reports that more than 50 percent of the youth in Spain, and one in four of all adults, are unemployed. The Socialist government was defeated and pushed out of office last year, meaning more austerity measures have since been put in place.

Many of the indignados feel a growing frustration at the lack of change taking place in the government. The current government plans to hike property and income taxes while also freezing minimum wage and increasing cuts in health care, RT News reports.

One man speaking with NPR, Mariano Nieto, said that he felt as though the protests were doing little to make changes. In his own words, “It’s more like children that cry when they feel they’ve been treated not fairly. It’s a bit of that. At least, crying, that’s the last thing we have, and that’s what we do.”

The situation appears to be tense across Spain, Greece and Italy, all of which have seen a massive rise in unrest, public protest and resistance. Greece has perhaps seen the most drastic presence of riot police and unrest of the three countries, with an expansion in the police force in recent months.  Even in the relatively peaceful demonstrations in Madrid this month, at least 2,000 riot police were deployed to contain the indignados. Tourism will certainly take a hit this summer in the face of such notorious unrest.

The G8 summit, taking place this week, will pull together leaders from the United States and Europe. Meetings will likely focus on the financial state of these countries, with François Hollande likely to come to heads with Angela Merkel and President Obama over austerity plans and intentions.

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8 comments

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10:17AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

Ow.

4:21AM PDT on May 23, 2012

Thank you for the article...

1:04AM PDT on May 23, 2012

As someone who just spent 4 days in Athens, I have to say that the media overplays the idea of riots and protestors. Sure I did see a presence of riot police, but not to the extent of suggesting a full-scale riot was expected. Whatever the situation was, it didn't stop the locals from being welcoming, positive and hoping for the best. I even partied with a few of them and they can party harder than people where I live (Dubai), whose biggest problems revolve around which brand-name jeans or handbag they should pick up tomorrow afternoon before they meet their friends for a sushi lunch at a 5 star hotel and discuss the latest inanities of life (i.e. what Kim or Princess Kate wore the other day).

Stop worrying, start living. We can't control everything.

11:38AM PDT on May 22, 2012

Throw the politicians out. Let the people rule by consensus, supercharged by IT.

11:32AM PDT on May 22, 2012

Why must people leave law making to corruptible leaders when we the people can make our own laws by popular initiative and referendum?

4:31AM PDT on May 22, 2012

"The indignados (“the angry ones” in English) have been protesting for the last year in a style similar to that of Occupy Wall Street in the United States."

I think this could be expressed differently : the Occupy Wall Street movement started AFTER the indignados in Spain.

Here in Europe, there is now relatively little information about the Wall Street movement. Has it declined, or are the European media just playing it down ?

The indignados, on the other hand, have been pretty busy all the time, as the article clearly states.


2:09PM PDT on May 21, 2012

hopefully things get better soon..

12:19PM PDT on May 21, 2012

thank u

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