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Spanish protesters start Madrid clean-up
26 May 2011 @ 15:13

Demonstrators camped in Puerta del Sol remove graffiti and clean up shopfronts after complaints from local businesses.

Protesters camped out in Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square have begun to voluntarily clean up shopfronts, removing graffiti and posters, after complaints that they were suffocating local businesses.

Teams of rubber-gloved volunteers ripped down posters and tried to clean away or cover up graffiti after the demonstrators agreed to some of the proposals made by their "respect" committee.

The clean-up was approved by the daily assembly, though demonstrators restricted their work to small and medium-sized businesses. Spain's biggest department store chain, El Corte Inglés, had to do its own cleaning.

Local traders complain they have lost 80% of their business since the protest camp first appeared on 15 May.

"That means the loss of income that will never be recovered," they said after complaining to the interior ministry.

Organisers have agreed a protocol for passive resistance that means any attempt to clear the square by force would require large numbers of police.

Demonstrators will stay until at least Sunday, but do not know what they will do after that.

They have yet to present a set of demands, with proposals being slowly debated through numerous assemblies and committees.

"Time is running out," warned one speaker at the daily general assembly.

Media attention has turned away from the camps to the fallout from Sunday's municipal elections, with splits appearing in the Socialist party of the prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Zapatero is fighting attempts to call an emergency party conference to replace him as leader. He has already said he will not be the party's candidate for prime minister at the next general election, which is due by March.

He told journalists on Wednesday he wanted the party to hold internal primaries instead, so members could choose a new candidate for prime minister while he remains secretary general.

Source: The Guardian

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