By Wendy Williams
SPANISH heartthrob Javier Bardem has lent his support to a mass street protest against austerity measures, including a massive hike in VAT, which he said is killing Spain’s cultural sector.
The Hollywood actor joined hundreds of fellow artists under the banner ‘culture is not a luxury’ in a demonstration outside the culture ministry, as part of a wider protest on the streets of Madrid last week.
The No Country for Old Men star echoed nationwide complaints that a VAT rise and other austerity measures will punish ordinary Spaniards unfairly and cut off their access to the arts.
“This raising of VAT means that they are generally killing cultural activity in this country,” he said.
“This is a very unjust situation because the government, rather than making the financial sector pay for the consequences of what they’ve done, they put all the weight on unemployed people, sick people, pensioners.
“They’re going to empty this country, killing the future for a lot of generations,” added the actor, who said he was ‘privileged’ to make a living from acting in films outside Spain, at a time when many Spaniards are leaving the country to look for work.
It comes as the Spanish cinema federation (FECE), that represents around 80 per cent of the country’s movie theatres, ruled not to strike over the 13 per cent hike in VAT as it would ‘further aggravate the situation and do more harm to the viewers.’
Theatre and cinema tickets were previously charged VAT at a reduced rate but this has now been cancelled.
The rate is set to rocket from eight per cent to 21 per cent from September 1, making it higher than in other countries includingBritain (which applies 20 per cent), Italy (10 per cent),France and Germany (seven per cent).