On Saturday thousands have taken to the streets of Spain, Germany and Portugal to protest austerity measures in the debt stricken nations. Protesters could be seen carrying banners saying, “No more cuts” and “Screw the Troika,” referring to the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the groups that bailed out a number of European Union nations.
For four years now protests have raged through much of the European Union as a result of austerity measures implemented in response to the 2008 financial crisis and the loans that followed.
In Frankfurt, Germany protestors faced off with police near the headquarters of the European Central Bank. The police claimed about 7,000 protesters would not move after police surrounded a smaller group of protesters wearing masks.
In Lisbon, Portugal around 15,000 people rallied outside the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund, chanting “IMF, out of here!”
Euronews reported protestors In Madrid, Spain numbered around 7,000. Protesters marched to the central Neptuno fountain near Parliament, chanting “Government, resign.”
Last Wednesday saw a particularly disturbing scene where Spanish firefighters clashed with riot police in Barcelona. The firefighters were also fighting against proposed cuts to their salaries. In Catalonia, the economically powerful region of Spain, hundreds of public employees, wearing yellow helmets and red jackets, rallied in front of the parliament building. There were numerous reports of the use of flares, smoke bombs and coffins labeled “public services” being set on fire.
According to the Associated Press, the European Union granted several member states, including Spain, additional time to manage their budgets in the face of economic turmoil.
With the American economy under an equal amount of stress, many Americans are looking to alternative currencies, barter networks and community gardens as strategies to combat rising food prices and unemployment. We have to ask ourselves if we would rather wait til our options are starve, or riot. By pursuing solutions now we can help better our situation in the future.