Posted: Sep 15, 2012 1:53 PM
Updated: Sep 15, 2012 1:54 PM
MADRID (AP) Tens of thousands of people from all over Spain rallied in the capital Saturday against punishing austerity measures enacted by the government, which is trying to save the country from financial collapse.
Large anti-austerity protests also took place in neighboring Portugal. Demonstrators in Lisbon threw tomatoes and fireworks at the Portuguese headquarters of the International Monetary Fund. Two protesters were arrested, but otherwise the rally was peaceful.
Spain is stuck in a double-dip recession with unemployment close to 25 percent. The conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (rah-HOY') has introduced stinging cuts and raised taxes in a bid to reduce the deficit and to reassure investors and officials from the 17-nation eurozone.
The situation looks set to get worse in coming weeks. At a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Cyprus on Friday, Spain revealed it would present a new set of economic reforms by the end of the month. It's a move that raises expectations that Spain might soon ask for financial help.
APPHOTO PW102: Extreme right-wing protesters march after lighting flares during a demonstration against austerity measures applied by the Spanish government, Madrid, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. Tens of thousands of people from all over the country converged earlier on Madrid to hold a large anti-austerity demonstration on Saturday. The demonstrations were called to protest government cuts during the country's financial crisis. Banner reads ' Against capitalism, Radical struggle' (AP Photo/Paul White) (15 Sep 2012)