Fires and barricades on day two of student protests in Madrid

The mood at the Complutense University is one of defiance and confrontation over education cuts

A burning barricade at Madrid's Complutense University.
A burning barricade at Madrid's Complutense University.Antonio Pampliega (EFE)

There was a mood of defiance on Thursday as day two of a 48-hour strike at universities and high schools against education cuts got underway.

Around 150 students, many wearing masks, cut off traffic on the avenue that crosses the campus of Madrid’s Complutense University, while other protestors set up barricades in front of the law and history departments as riot police looked on.

Firefighters were called in to put out a fire at another barricade on a driveway leading to the university's philosophy department. Police arrested at least one individual who was carrying flammable material.

As the emergency services put out the fire, around 20 students called on them to go slower. “Your colleagues took longer yesterday, don’t be in a rush,” said one protestor, according to news agency Europa Press.

“Your colleagues took longer to put out the fire, don’t be in a rush!”

Around 20 members of the riot police then advanced towards the demonstrators, who took refuge inside the school. Police vehicles stationed on campus drove away around 9am, although a helicopter hovered overhead throughout the morning as students continued to mill around on campus.

Barricades have also been set up at the Autónoma University and the private King Juan Carlos University in the capital.

These incidents come a day after 53 people were arrested at Complutense University – half of them students and the other half squatters and members of extreme-left groups, according to police sources.

A student march is scheduled for noon on Thursday in Madrid, where protestors will converge on the central Puerta del Sol square to express their discontent over cuts to education spending, hikes in tuition fees and tougher conditions to apply for study grants. A second demonstration is expected to begin at 5.30pm and head toward the Education Ministry.

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