RIOT police fired rubber bullets Wednesday at Spanish coal miners protesting in the streets of Madrid, along with tens of thousands of other workers.
Hundreds of workers were arrested and injured in the struggle that ensued.
The Asturian miners march into the capital was the culmination of a nearly three-week march from the region.
The marchers were received as heroes on Tuesday night as they entered Madrid’s main square, the Puerta del Sol.
On Wednesday, police fired volleys of rubber bullets and tear gas directly at miners, their relatives and thousands of supporters as they gathered outside Spain’s Industry Ministry.
Olvidio Gonzalez, 67, a retired miner from the northern Asturias region, was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet and fell to ground. Rescue workers took him away on a stretcher.
‘We were walking peacefully to get to where the union leaders were speaking and they started to fire indiscriminately. There was no warning. What’s happening here is like a dictatorship, it’s unjust and I am so angry’, Gonzalez said.
Santiago Oviedo, 24, a physics masters student, said he saw at least ten people hit by rubber bullets.
The riot police attack came as prime minister Rajoy announced more sales tax hikes and spending cuts aimed at slashing 65 billion euros off the state budget over the next two and a half years.
The miners were protesting against a 63 per cent cut in subsidies to mining companies imposed by the government.
Asturias miner David Menendez, 30, said: ‘I’m here to defend my work. Rajoy is committing crimes against the economy and killing it. It’s just cuts and more cuts.’
Marcher Pepi Garcia, a 52-year-old hotel waitress, said: ‘Rajoy is defending the banks and the rich. He would rather save the bankers than the miners.’