Thousands of people again converged on the streets of Madrid on Wednesday evening after a protest march the previous night had ended in violence and mutual accusations of excessive violence on the part of the police and activists. Congress remained effectively under siege with protestors massing on the streets outside and snaking down into surrounding boulevards. Passing cars honked their support for the protest as a collective voice of anger and disillusionment took up chants against the government’s austerity measures under the watchful eye of a massive security deployment.
Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz backed the government delegate in Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, who said that the police’s suppression of Tuesday’s protest had been entirely justified. Fernández Díaz spoke of the “extreme violence” on the part of some protestors but the Socialist Party and the United left criticized the security forces’ actions, terming them “repressive, disproportionate and excessive.”
Many of the 35 people arrested on Tuesday passed through the courts the following day, charged with public order offenses. Video footage of police officers charging into the busy Atocha rail and subway station firing rubber bullets and beating people apparently unconnected to the protest was uploaded to the internet Wednesday.
Socialist leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba accused Mariano Rajoy, who was in New York attending the UN General Assembly, of losing his grip on the country. Rubalcaba also said the government had fled from Congress. “There is deep social unease,” the opposition leader noted.