World

Thousands from across Spain gather in Madrid for anti-austerity rally, call for general strike

  • Protestors shout slogans during a "Dignity March" to protest against the Government in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Thousands from different parts of Spain marched towards the Capital to join a large anti-austerity demonstration to express their anger at government financial cuts, its housing rights policies, and the high unemployment rates and to protest the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

    Protestors shout slogans during a "Dignity March" to protest against the Government in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Thousands from different parts of Spain marched towards the Capital to join a large anti-austerity demonstration to express their anger at government financial cuts, its housing rights policies, and the high unemployment rates and to protest the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)  (The Associated Press)

  • EDS NOTE - SPANISH LAW REQUIRES THAT THE FACES OF MINORS ARE MASKED IN PUBLICATIONS WITHIN SPAIN - People pass by a police car broken by protestors during a "Dignity March" to protest against the Government in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Thousands from different parts of Spain marched towards the Capital to join a large anti-austerity demonstration to express their anger at government financial cuts, its housing rights policies, and the high unemployment rates and to protest the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

    EDS NOTE - SPANISH LAW REQUIRES THAT THE FACES OF MINORS ARE MASKED IN PUBLICATIONS WITHIN SPAIN - People pass by a police car broken by protestors during a "Dignity March" to protest against the Government in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Thousands from different parts of Spain marched towards the Capital to join a large anti-austerity demonstration to express their anger at government financial cuts, its housing rights policies, and the high unemployment rates and to protest the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)  (The Associated Press)

  • Plain clothes police arrest a protestor, centre bottom, after riots during a "Dignity March" to protest against the Government in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Thousands from different parts of Spain marched towards the Capital to join a large anti-austerity demonstration to express their anger at government financial cuts, its housing rights policies, and the high unemployment rates and to protest the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

    Plain clothes police arrest a protestor, centre bottom, after riots during a "Dignity March" to protest against the Government in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, March 21, 2015. Thousands from different parts of Spain marched towards the Capital to join a large anti-austerity demonstration to express their anger at government financial cuts, its housing rights policies, and the high unemployment rates and to protest the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)  (The Associated Press)

Thousands of demonstrators from across Spain gathered at one of Madrid's main squares Saturday to protest against the way the government has tackled the financial crisis by implementing harsh austerity measures.

Organizers had hoped to attract 20,000 protesters to the event, labelled Marches for Dignity, and Saturday evening much of Colon Square and part of Paseo de Recoletos boulevard were packed with people carrying republican flags and banners calling for a general strike.

Hairdresser Dolores Cerezo, 32, who had arrived from southern Sevilla, said the government had cut back "savagely" on public services such as education and the national health service, "but we are seeing many of them now appearing in court suspected of fraud and corruption, of stealing money."

Scuffles broke out after the main rally ended. Riot police clashed with about 200 protesters who had attacked a bank and a police car.