Some 150,000 people protest again over rising prices in Spain

Demonstrators demand immediate measures from the socialist government of Pedro Sanchez to stem the rise in prices, especially those of fuel, in Madrid, Sunday March 20, 2022 (AFP photo)

As many as 150,000 farmers, ranchers and hunters marched Sunday through Madrid to protest the Spanish center-left government's failure to tackle soaring prices exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The mass demonstration came a day after thousands of demonstrators, called by the far-right Vox party, protested against rising food, energy and fuel prices.

Hoisting Spanish flags and blowing whistles, demonstrators walked Sunday through the central avenues of the capital, often led by tractors blaring their horns.

Slogans stamped on protest banners read "Costs continue to rise," or "We are ranchers on the way to extinction" and "S.O.S rural world."

The protest, which a government official estimated drew 150,000 people, was organized by the Rural Alliance, which says it represents 10 million people in Spain.

"This government is a ruin, fuel is getting more and more expensive," Nora Guzman told AFP from atop a green tractor from Pozuelo de Alarcon, on the western outskirts of Madrid.

"Today is the start for looking for solutions," Pedro Barato, head of the agricultural employers' association Asaja, told journalists.

"Enough is enough, let the head of government stop traveling and start acting," Barato added.

Producers complain of rising fuel and fertilizer prices at a time of low profits.

They also denounced Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's government for pushing animal welfare regulations that restrict dog breeding or limit hunting.

"Today animals are protected more than people," said Fernando Saez, a farmer from the southern city of Cordoba, accompanied by his hunting dog Cera.

Last year, energy prices soared by 72 percent in Spain, one of the highest increases within the European Union, and costs have surged even higher since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24 in a crisis that comes hot on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last Monday, Spanish lorry drivers declared an open-ended strike over fuel prices which soon mushroomed into multiple roadblocks and protests, triggering supply chain problems.

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