Europe

Anti-austerity protests in 55 Spanish cities

MADRID (AP) — Trade unions and anti-austerity groups angry at the effects of the financial crisis have held protest marches in 55 Spanish cities, calling on the government to re-think its policy of cutbacks in public services, education and health care.

Thousands marched to Madrid's Puerta del Sol square — many wearing white medical scrubs — carrying banners reading "Health care is not for sale." Saturday's peaceful protests coincided with anti-fascist gatherings, including one outside El Valle de los Caidos, a giant mausoleum north of Madrid where dictator Gen. Francisco Franco is buried.

Many protesters carried tri-color republican flags in commemoration of the democratically-elected government that Franco overthrew with the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in an internecine 1936-1939 civil war.

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