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What's up, Europe? Protesters in Madrid

Protestors pass a statue of the Marquez del Duero in Gregorio Maranon square during a demonstration by Spanish coal miners on July 11, 2012 in Madrid, Spain.

Kai Ryssdal: The economic news from Spain today is grim. The government is imposing new austerity measures -- $80 billion worth of tax increases and pay and benefit cuts to meet the requirements of the bank bailout of a couple of weeks ago.

Today, to Madrid and Miguel Anxo Murado once again. Good to have you with us.

Miguel Anxo Murado: My pleasure.

Ryssdal: Well, so there is some news today out of Spain. What's the sense, what's the vibe?

Murado: Well, let's say we have quite an extaordinary scene in the street of Madrid. In particular, yesterday night, thousands of miners came to town with their lamps on, their hardhats, their flares in their hands. They were protesting the budget cuts put in effect by the government. They were recieved also by thousands of people who were also angry at the austerity measures, who were angry about the bailout for the banks. So quite a busy day for a journalist today.

Ryssdal: So this bank bailout was announced, like what, three weeks or a month or so ago, I guess, and it came with terms and conditions. Was this not expected? Were these austerity measures from the Prime Minister -- were they a surprise to people?

Murado: Well I think people are suprised for two reasons. One, the harshness of the measures. We knew that there were new measures coming, but probably not that harsh. And there is also some shock at understanding, yes, our economy is no longer in our hands and we have to follow the directions of Brussells. 

Ryssdal: Do you think people really believe they are not in control of their own economy anymore, that Spain is not in control of its own economy?

Murado: People are beginning to realize that. The government was very adamant in denying that Spain was completely under the control of Brussells. But now, it's evident that that is the case, and the government is admitting it for the first time. So we are entering a completely new phase, I think.

Ryssdal: A new and unknown phase, right? Are people uncertain, scared?

Murado: The problem is that being uncertain is almost a good thing at this point because if you are certain you are certain of something that is not very good. Pessimism is what is certain. 

Ryssdal: Is there anything in the news that is on the lighter side? Is there anything to take people's mind of all this?

Murado: Since the win in the football championship, there is not much in the way of good news. I think people are still dreaming of that, thinking of that, at a time when they want to have some good things. 

Ryssdal: Miguel Anxo Murado with us today from Spain. Miguel, thanks so much.

Murado: Pleasure. 

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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