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Spain's disabled protest austerity cuts

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 2, 2012 at 12:32 pm •  Published: December 2, 2012
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Blind protester Francisco Vicente, 54, said the government was neglecting disabled people in many ways, including failing to provide a transport system and even sidewalks that were not a hazard for visually impaired citizens.

"We don't count for those in power, except when they seek our votes," Vicente said.

Spain is immersed in a double-dip recession with 25 percent unemployment. The government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is implementing harsh austerity reforms aimed at avoiding a financial implosion and a national bailout like that required by Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus.

However, the level of bad debt in the country's banks has risen to record levels and the 16 other countries that use the euro as a currency have agreed to lend Spain up to €100 billion to help support banks weighed down by bad loans and investments.

Overspent regions have found it difficult to refinance their debt through money markets and have had to turn to the central government for aid, while cutting budgets.

Spain's regions have a combined debt of €145 billion ($185 billion) — of which around €36 billion has had to be refinanced this year.

"We know times are hard for everyone, but we who have begun life with so little are on the verge of collapse, and we can't just disappear," Gonzalez said.