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Spain Antiausterity Protests Draw Thousands

Preparing for his return from a business promotion trip to India, King Juan Carlos told journalists that, "From outside, Spain looks better, you come away with a better image." He added, "Inside, you want to weep, it's all woes, but we have to overcome them."

Since being voted to office in general elections in November, Rajoy has hiked taxes, cut spending, including a wage-cut for civil servants, and introduced stinging labor reforms in a bid to persuade investors and international authorities that he can manage Spain's finances without the need for a full-blown bailout.

However, Spain's public finances have been overwhelmed by the cost of rescuing some of its banks and regional governments, many of which have experienced heavy losses following a property sector crash in 2008.

One Spaniard in four is unemployed as the economic crisis tightens its grip. The government is under pressure to seek aid to ease debts while the country sinks into its second recession in three years.

Economic output has contracted for five quarters in a row and Spain's troubled banks have been granted a 100 billion euro ($130 billion) loan facility by the 17 eurozone countries.

"We can't go on like this. We have a right to a public health system and quality schools for our kids," said Paloma Martinez, 62. "We are indignant and have no fear."
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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