Spain protesters start dismantling tents in Barcelona
Spain's "indignant" protesters began dismantling tents Wednesday after more than six weeks encamped in a Barcelona square, saying they had struck a deal to leave with the city.
In mid-morning, protesters railing against high unemployment, austerity, and political corruption could be seen collapsing tents in the Plaza de Catalunya. Some protest signs had been removed.
But other protesters seemed unwilling to move from the camp, set up after the movement erupted May 15 when activists rallied protesters to squares around Spain, spreading the word via Twitter and Facebook.
A spokesman for the "15-M" movement said the protesters were waiting to check that the city would install a protest information booth in the square as promised before they removed the encampment.
In a statement, the Barcelona protesters said they had come to an agreement with the city hall, which had asked them to leave the square by June 28.
"We asked to have an infrastructure that would at least allow us to ensure continuity," they said, adding that the city hall had agreed to provide them with stalls and power.
On May 27, Catalan anti-riot police fired rubber bullets and swung truncheons to disperse protesters in the Barcelona square, resulting in 87 mostly light injuries.
By that same evening, however, at least 5,000 people were back in the square and some had put tents back up.
The protesters have won broad support in Spain, targetting corruption-tainted politicians, poverty, their lack of voice in Spain's democracy, and a 21.29-percent unemployment rate.
A protest camp in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square was dismantled on June 12 but the group vowed to mount new protests.
On June 19, about 200,000 protesters packed the streets of Madrid, Barcelona and other major cities to vent their anger, according to estimates by the Spanish media and some regional authorities.
And last week, small groups of activists set off on long marches from Barcelona, Valencia in the east and Cadiz in the south to spread their protest before joining up for a Madrid rally planned on July 24.
© 2011 AFP