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Travel

When Spain's Angry Miners Took Over Madrid

They walked for three weeks to riot for a day, until the buses came and took them home.

by Photos: Jairo Vargas Martin, Text: Henry Langston
Jul 13 2012, 1:30pm

Last week, I managed to make friends with some angry Spanish miners. How did I do this? Well it was easy; I basically just ran around with my camera in clouds of tear gas as the miners fought police with homemade bazookas. And then when the police left, we all got very drunk.

Anyway, yesterday morning, tens of thousands of angry Spanish coal miners took to the streets of Madrid to protest against some changes the government wants to make to the mining industry. Changes like wiping it out. Who needs a livelihood, anyway?

The march began as a declaration of solidarity, with some 200 miners spending the last three weeks walking the 300 or so miles from the northern region of Asturias to Madrid. As soon as they arrived in the center of the capital late on Tuesday night, their supporters lined the streets. And yet, as often happens in situations like this one, it didn't take too long for things to turn ugly.

The plan was for the march to end at the Ministry of Industry, where the miners were hoping to speak to José Manuel Soria, the Minister for Industry, Energy, and Tourism. But, rudely, he declined the invitation. As you can imagine, this bummed the miners out big time, so they protested until the police began firing rubber bullets and attacking the crowd with batons. To which the miners responded with rocks and firecrackers, engaging the cops in a battle that ran until around 3 PM, when a bunch of buses came to trolley them home to Asturias.

The day ended with 70-odd wounded miners, but also a massive increase in public support for their cause. One miner summed up the problem as such: "We're only asking that they cut ten percent instead of 60... If they don't pay attention to us, we'll be back—with dynamite."

Jesus Christo.

More miners? Check this out:

Hanging Out with Spain's Angry Bazooka Miners