CITIES across Spain awoke this morning to the aftermath of chaotic scenes as violent demonstrations took place against new COVID-19 regulations.
One of the largest riots took place in Spain’s capital, Madrid, with smaller but equally as disruptive demonstrations closing down areas of Barcelona, Bilbao, Malaga and Valencia.
Unrest began on Madrid’s Gran Via as hundreds of protesters gathered, chanting slogans such as ‘Madrid says enough’ and ‘Stop the dictatorship’.
Scenes quickly turned ugly as emotions spilled over, with demonstrators setting fire to rubbish containers, vandalising shop fronts and targeting banks, smashing windows and damaging cash machines.
Policia Nacional officers arrived and dispersed the crowd from the Puerta del Sol, who then moved north to the Plaza de Isabel II, continuing their path of destruction.
A small number of Police officers suffered mild injuries according to a statement from the central government’s delegate in Madrid.
Police vehicles were also damaged as protesters threw objects as authorities attempted to control the crowd.
In total, 32 people were arrested and will be charged with civil disobedience and criminal damage.
The Madrid protests appear to have been organised through social media and were in direct conjunction with demonstrations that took place in Barcelona on Friday.
According to head of the regional Police Pere Ferrer, the riots in Barcelona were led by “very violent and organized anti-government groups”.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has condemned the riots, labelling the people responsible ‘irresponsible’ and ‘intolerable’ whilst calling for ‘responsibility, unity and sacrifice’ in these difficult times.
Right-wing Vox leader Santiago Abascal gave his support to the law enforcement officers, however defended the right to protest, blaming ‘irregular immigrants’ and ‘unaccompanied minors’ on the left for the riots.
“Right now, there is more reason than ever to protest,” said Abascal on Twitter.
The civil unrest is a direct response to the nationwide curfew that was introduced last week to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Movement in public spaces has been permitted between the hours of 11.00pm and 6.00am in response to rapidly increasing coronavirus cases in what is being described as Spain’s ‘Second Wave’.