Austerity Europe reared its ugly head today when a volley of rubber bullets fired by police injured scores of protesters and members of the media during Spain's "Jarrow March."
Coalminers and trade union activists angry over government subsidy cuts had massed by the gates of the Ministry of Industry in Madrid and were making their voices heard.
Riot police guarding the building charged using their batons, leaving about a dozen wounded.
Witnesses said some supporters who had joined the demo at the last minute then began to throw stones and firecrackers at police - who replied with rubber bullets.
Reports said that "several" demonstrators, members of the media as well as some policemen had been injured.
One witness said: "At least one photographer had severe bleeding from the head, and a television camera operator was lying on the floor and looked unconscious."
Police were reported to have arrested five people and at least 23 people were said to have been tended by emergency services for injuries after the charge.
Around 25,000 miners had converged on Madrid and linked up with union activists to protest against a 63 per cent cut in government subsidies to mining companies.
Most reached the capital in 500 buses - but many had walked for weeks in what observers were calling their "Jarrow March," an echo of the October 1936 protest march against unemployment and extreme poverty in north-east England.
Miners wearing hard hats and carrying walking sticks marched with relatives and sympathisers under a hot sun surrounded by huge puffs of firework smoke.
They were chanting: "No to the closure of coal mining - yes to the reactivation of the mining regions" and were greeted with applause from passers-by.
Unions say cuts will completely destroy coal mining in Spain.
On Tuesday night the miners had been received as heroes in Puerta del Sol, one of Madrid's main plazas.
David Menendez, who has worked down the pits for 10 years, came from Asturias in the north by bus with relatives and fellow miners. "I'm here to defend my work," Mr Menendez said.
He said he was outraged by tax rises and austerity measures announced by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government just before the protest.
He said: "Rajoy is committing crimes against the economy and killing it. "
Spanish coal's state subsidies are due to be eliminated by 2018 under EU agreements.
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said: "This is the true face of the European banks' austerity measures against some of the poorest people in Europe."
National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Yorkshire area chairman Chris Skidmore said: "We condemn any action taken against the miners.
"We are sympathetic with the Spanish miners - we were labelled the enemy within and now they have been."
And Labour MP and former NUM president Ian Lavery said: "I salute the Spanish miners in their efforts to secure a future for themselves and their families.
"I urge miners from across the world to support the strikers by whatever means they can. Solidarity forever."
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