MADRID — Thousands of protesters in Madrid furious over soaring unemployment staged a silent protest and then erupted in cheers of joy as a 48-hour ban on their demonstration took effect on Saturday.
"Now we are all illegal" and "the people united will never be defeated," were among the chants of the protesters who crammed Madrid's Puerta del Sol square and spilled onto side streets.
The protesters held a minute's silence, their hands in the air and some with tape over their mouths, just before midnight on Friday, when campaigning officially ended for Sunday's regional and municipal elections.
The crowd then cheered as the clock in the square, the main site of New Year festivities in Madrid, chimed midnight and a ban on the protest became effective.
"From Tahrir to Madrid to the world, world revolution," said one of the placards, referring to Tahrir Square in Cairo which was the focal point of the Egyptian revolution earlier this year.
Some 19,000 people took part, according to a calculation by the Lynce organisation which estimates crowd numbers and released by the Spanish national news agency Efe.Thousands of people have massed in city centres across the country in an swelling movement that began May 15, the biggest spontaneous protests since the property bubble exploded in 2008 and plunged Spain into a recession from which it only emerged this year.....read on