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Tens of thousands of people across Spain have protested against education and healthcare spending cuts. The protests came as the country's economy has slid into its second recession in three years.
Unemployment is at over 24 percent, and more than half of Spaniards under 25-years-old are jobless. And, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government has introduced stinging austerity measures in its first five months in office. But protesters have urged Rajoy not to go ahead with the cuts to the health care and education systems.
Teacher Ruth Colomo said, "We are here defending the public education and the healthcare system, because it's financed with everyone's taxes and now they want to destroy it for good. They are ending up with everything, but it's ours and we think we have the right to fight for it."
Demonstrators take shelter from the rain underneath General Workers Union (UGT) flags during a protest in downtown Madrid April 29, 2012. [CNTV]
Demonstrations took place in Madrid, northeastern Barcelona and eastern Valencia. Spain's economic problems have become the epicenter of Europe's debt crisis in recent weeks as investors worry over Spain's ability to push through the austerity measures. The cuts are aimed principally at slashing the government's deficit from 8.5 percent of economic output to three percent by 2013- a level set by the European Union.
For this year, the goal is 5.3 percent. With the economy shrinking and the population restless, there are concerns that the government will not meet its targets and will be forced to seek a financial rescue similar to Greece, Ireland and Portugal.