Debt-ridden Spain to spend €1million on riot gear

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‘The Spanish government intends to spend about 1 million euro on police riot gear, despite the country’s debt rising by 58 billion euro over the last year. Authorities worry about widespread protests they believe will grip the nation in the autumn.

Spain has become the protest capital of Europe. Just the first half of 2013 saw in the region of 36,000 protests in Spain, with Barcelona accounting for 2,500 of them, according to the Local. Given the love of the populace to take to the streets, the government is not taking any chances, with protests expected to peak in the autumn.

The Interior Ministry says they will be purchasing equipment ranging from riot batons to stab proof vests, while they also want to buy water cannon to help deal with protestors. Law enforcements said the water cannon are necessary, “given the current social dynamic.”

“We have a problem with equipment,” said Javier Estévez of the Sindicato Unificado de Policia, the Spanish Police Union, pointing to a protest last March that left 67 police officers injured. “We don’t have the best or even up-to-date equipment,” the Guardian quotes him as saying.

Amnesty International has been critical of the government’s move to buy riot gear and water cannon, saying they could not only lead to more casualties, but also inflame already volatile situations.

“They say they buy this material to control disturbances, but how exactly will it be used?” posed Amnesty’s Ángel Gonzalo. “In Greece we have documented how these water cannons, when used a short distance, can provoke severe injuries and commotions.”

The organization is also critical that the new equipment could lead to further crackdowns on Spanish citizens civil rights.’

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Niamh Harris
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