Spanish youths have held mass protests in cities across Spain and near the country’s embassies around the world against high unemployment and poor working conditions in troubled eurozone nation.
Thousands marched in central Madrid on Sunday to highlight the issue which they say has forced many youth to go abroad to find work.
Smaller protests were held in Barcelona and Zaragoza and in more than 30 other cities around the world – from Vancouver to Vienna, where young Spaniards have emigrated, in demonstrations organised by the grass-roots group Youth Without a Future.
Spain is struggling through a double-dip recession sparked by the collapse of a decade-long building boom in 2008 that has driven its unemployment rate to 55 percent among those aged 16 to 24 and to a record 26 percent overall.
Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, said on Wednesday that Spain’s recession-hit economy would return to growth in 2014 and begin creating jobs again.
Youth Without a Future posted photographs of the demonstrations on its website, including one of eight youths who gathered in Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam holding hand-made signs and of a protest of about 50 people staged in Berlin.
“We want to denounce the forced exile which young Spaniards are experiencing due to a lack of job opportunities,” Mikel Revuelta, group spokesman, said at the end of the march in Madrid.
The group has gathered more than 7,000 brief accounts of young people in Spain who are thinking of leaving the country or of those who have already moved abroad.
Spain’s jump in unemployment has seen an exodus of youth, with tens of thousand of young Spaniards, many of them university graduates, looking for better opportunities in countries such as Germany and Britain and former Spanish colonies in Latin America.
A study by analyst Real Instituto Elcano in February shows 70 percent of Spaniards younger than 30 have considered moving abroad.
Meanwhile, a community in Spain’s rural south, where the agriculture and building industry was hit hard by the recession, has taken matters into its own hands.
A group of volunteers in the town of Espera have banded together to run a food bank for the Catholic charity Caritas that feeds about 50 needy families each week.
Prime Minister Rajoy’s conservative government unveiled a $4.6bn (3.5 billion-euro) plan last month to boost hiring of young people and help them start businesses.
The four-year plan includes reductions in social security payments for the self-employed and for companies hiring workers younger than 30 and training for young people who did not finish high school, like many who were lured by unskilled work on building sites during the building boom.
The Spanish government said on Friday that it would invest 2.4 billion euros over the next three years to help the poor gain access to rental housing and renovate buildings to boost the stricken construction sector.