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Tens of thousands of ‘indignant’ protesters march in Madrid

Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Madrid Saturday against government cutbacks to health and education spending, unemployment and corporate greed as part of a global day of protest.

The demonstration came exactly five months after Spain’s so-called “indignant” protest movement was born with a rally on May 15 that turned into a sprawling protest camp that occupied Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol for weeks.

The “indignant” movement then spread to Europe, finding strong backing in crisis-hit countries like Greece, and then worldwide — last month reaching the centre of global capitalism in Wall Street.

Five columns of marchers converged on Madrid’s central Cibeles Square after walking for hours from different points across the city before proceeding to Puerta del Sol for assemblies scheduled to last throughout the night.

“I think it is very moving that the movement that was born here has extended throughout the world. It was about time for people to rise up,” said 24-year-old Carmen Martin as she marched towards Puerta del Sol.

When the columns converged the crowds of demonstrators cheered and applauded.

“If you don’t let us dream, we won’t let you sleep” and “We are not merchandise” were among some of the signs on display.

“The financial system disgusts me. They are thieves who have no shame,” said Angel Luque, a 47-year-old golf course employee who attended the first “indignant” march in May.

Many of the protesters wore matching green T-shirts with slogans against government spending cuts in education which have been a common sight at demonstrations by teachers against the government austerity measure.

“I am here because of the attacks that workers are suffering on behalf of the state, especially against public education and health care,” said Emilio Duran, a 49-year-old labour lawyer.

“I also feel proud that a movement has extended itself globally from Spain.”

Inspired by Spain’s “indignant” movement and the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in the United States, people took to the streets on Saturday in a rolling action targeting 951 cities in 82 countries around the world.

The protest in Madrid was one of 60 rallies held across Spain. With a general election on November 20, there is speculation that the rally could turn into another protest camp in an attempt to influence the political agenda.