Thousands of youths protest job insecurity in Spain
Thousands of youths took to the streets of Madrid Thursday to protest against high unemployment, job insecurity and government spending cuts, responding to an initiative launched on the Internet.
"We will not shut up, we will no resign ourselves," and "Enough!" were among some of the signs on display as the mostly young protesters made their way though the streets of the Spanish capital during the evening rush hour.
Organised on Facebook, where the group dubbed "Youth Without a Future" has over 7,000 followers, organisers said they were inspired by the youth uprisings in north Africa and similar protests in other European nations.
"We want to recover our capacity to be the motor of change, fighting a nation of precarity, unemployment and the privatisation of our education," the group said in its manifesto which was handed out at the protest.
"Italy, France, Greece and Iceland taught us that mobilisation is indispensible. The Arab world has shown us that victory is possible."
Many of the participants said their lives were on hold because a lack of stable jobs even for the most qualified graduates means they have little alternative but to live with their parents.
Manuela Astacio, 24, said she has not been able to find work since 2007 despite having two years of work experience as a journalist with Spanish news agency EFE and being fluent in English.
"I am not sure if this will change things but at least we will be heard," she said as she held up a sign that described her struggle to find work.
Spain's unemployment rate for those under 25 stood at 43.5 percent in February, more than twice the average for the country and the highest youth unemployment rate in the 27-nation European Union.
"Almost half of Spain's youths are unemployed," said Ivan Alonso, who has not been able to find a job to help support himself while he pursues his university studies in Madrid.
"I have been unemployed for three years. The government is starting to reduce scholarships and without a scholarship or a job it will be impossible to continue studying," he added as he handed out fliers at the protest.
© 2011 AFP