Spain: Protestings coal miners clash with police


Spanish miners attend a demonstration in the northern town of Langreo. A general strike is taking place across the country's mining regions to protest against subsidy reductions.


Pablo Blazquez Dominguez

Coal miners in northern Spain have clashed with police trying to break up protests against job losses and proposed subsidy cuts.

Associated Press reports that masked workers in the provinces of Asturias and Leon blocked roads with burning tires and fired missiles.  Tens of thousands of people marched in the northern towns of Leon and Langreo, and the strike was called in about 50 other mining towns.

"We have been using lengths of pipe to aim skyrockets, slings, golf ball launchers and even a homemade device to fire potatoes to keep the police away," miner Gerardo Cienfuegos, 39, is quoted as saying.

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Shopkeepers across the region refused to open up, making their areas into ‘Deadtowns’ in an act of solidarity with the miners, says Euronews.

France 24's correspondent in Spain explains that thousands of miners have been on strike for more than two weeks because the Spanish government, under pressure from the European Union, is set to cut government aid to the mining sector from US$373m last year to US$139m this year. Its thought the cuts will result in as many as 30,000 people directly or indirectly employed by the mining sector losing their jobs.

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The miners say this is particularly unfair because the government has sought billions of euros to stabilize its banking sector, according to AFP.

"The crisis is a useful excuse for taking money from workers and giving it to the banks," one retired miner, Vicente Turrado, told the news agency.