Barcelona police remove protesters blocking parliament
Spanish police dispersed hundreds of protesters Wednesday to let legislators enter the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona to debate spending and welfare cuts.
About 2,000 protesters decrying Spain's economic crisis and soaring unemployment, known as the "indignant", had rallied to block the lawmakers from entering the parliament, which sits in the Ciudatela park.
Police, deployed in force since Tuesday, locked the park gates to the public and pushed aside protesters trying to block one entrance.
A helicopter carried the president of the Catalan regional government, nationalist politician Artur Mas, directly to the parliament.
Police then created a cordon with lines of police vans to allow other lawmakers to enter the building.
"They don't represent us," the protesters chanted as the deputies arrived.
The regional deputies on Wednesday and Thursday are to debate the Catalan budget for 2011, which envisages a 10-percent reduction in public spending and social benefits.
The protesters had initially intended to set up a human chain around the regional parliament to stop the deputies entering, but police closed the park on Tuesday.
Protests over the economic crisis and soaring unemployment began in Madrid on May 15 and fanned out to city squares nationwide as word spread by Twitter and Facebook among demonstrators also known as "M-15", "Spanish Revolution" and "Real Democracy Now".
At the peak of the protests ahead of May 22 local elections, tens of thousands of people had packed city squares across Spain to decry welfare cuts, corruption and a jobless rate of 21.29 percent in the first quarter of 2011 -- the highest in the industrialised world.
Protesters installed in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square dismantled their camp on Sunday.
But they said the move does mean the end of their movement. On Sunday, marches are planned throughout Madrid leading to the parliament.
© 2011 AFP