Monday, November 12, 2012

On Strike: Madrid Edition

Since this coming Wednesday marks the General Strike in all of Spain, I figured it might be best to address (briefly) the economic crisis as it applies to the Iberian Peninsula. To start, all of the strikes/riots etc. have been going on in Madrid well before I arrived, and from what I understand it is only recently that there have been more strikes and less riots. The reason for these protests revolves around the austerity measures the EU is currently imposing on Spain as part of the conditions of the (second) bailout for Spanish banks. According to the austerity measures, cuts will have to be made to various areas of society in order for Spain's budget to be approved and bailout funds to be disbursed--this after a recent tax increase to 21%. This on top of foreclosures, which are estimated at around 300 a day in Spain. In Madrid alone there's a proposal to close 9 hospitals, not to mention a spike in metro prices, and cuts in education and pensions.

The Eurozone crisis itself is a bit harder to explain, but as far as Spain's goes the country more or less overspent its budget and was forced to ask for a bailout. They are currently waiting on the second one. The difference between Spain and Greece lies in their integrity. Every December each country within the European Union must submit a financial report detailing the total expenses and incomes of the previous year. While Spain was relatively honest about how much it was spending, Greece forged its financial reports, and it wasn't until 8 years later than an investigation conducted by the European Union revealed the country's true financial state. Add in the fiscal troubles of Portugal, Italy, and Ireland--whose situations I am not well informed about--and you have the Eurozone crisis.

Granted, this is largely an oversimplification of the current situation. I tried to leave it in vague terms because I don't know the facts specifically; this is just what I've gleaned throughout my time here. Hope it offers some kind of clarification. At any rate, I'm supposed to see a Flamenco show this week, so hopefully it will be bright enough in there to take photos to post with later. 

EDIT: One of my friends took this photo earlier today...translated, from left to right: "criminals," "let the capitalists pay for the crisis," and "bankers go to prison."


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