Arab Today, arab today spanish pensioners form brigade in war on austerity
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Spanish pensioners form brigade in war on austerity

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Spanish pensioners form brigade in war on austerity

London - AFP

Not content to sit out the economic crisis cushioned by their pensions, the elderly are joining in a wave of social protests in Spain, clamouring noisily in support of younger fellow citizens. With fluorescent yellow vests and whistles, the pensioners, known as \"Yayoflautas\", stage protests in banks and official premises against spending cuts and banking bailouts. Deriving their name from \"iaio\", the Catalan word for \"grandpa\", they have become a recognisable sub-division of the so-called \"indignants\" movement, which is also known as \"May 15\" for the date the protests started last year. \"It comes from a group of people in Barcelona. There were 14 of us to begin with,\" said Felipe Aranguren, 61, one of the leaders of the Yayoflautas and a radical left political activist. \"We knew each other from old protests, during the struggle against Franco,\" he added, referring to Spain\'s years of dictatorship that ended in 1975. The Yayoflautas movement has now spread to Madrid and several other cities. \"We realised that our children and grandchildren faced the prospect of living worse off than us and we had to take up the fight again to defend our rights,\" said another founder of the group, Celestino Sanchez, 63. Suffering in a recession that has driven the unemployment rate up to more than 24 percent and more than 50 percent among the under-25s, many young Spaniards are relying on their elders to support them. A recent study by the Catalan Red Cross showed that one in three retired people in Spain had helped out a family member financially in recent years and one in four had had one of their children move back in with them. The elderly have become \"an indispensable pillar to ease the effects of the crisis,\" the Red Cross report said. \"I have a lot of friends who are having to help out their grandchildren,\" says Victoria Lillo, a Yayoflauta of 54. \"They lose their jobs and come back to live with their parents, but their parents are unemployed too. The grandparents help thanks to their pensions, but those are very small.\" In recent months, bailouts for the banks -- whose risky real estate loans are blamed for inflating a housing bubble that burst in 2008, throwing millions out of work -- have sharpened protestors\' anger. At a typical protest, they will arrive banging drums and pans and peacefully occupy locations such as bank offices -- notably those of Bankia, the ruined lender bailed out by the government for 23.5 billion euros (29 billion dollars). Then they demand to meet with management, to whom they read their manifesto. \"All this money is to save an oligarchy and not for citizens,\" it reads. Thousands of ordinary mortgage-holders and their families have been evicted for defaulting on their loans, drawing cries of injustice from protestors who say the banks are to blame for predatory lending. \"We cannot tolerate them throwing families into the streets,\" says Lillo. \"If Bankia has been nationalised, then we are Bankia, and Bankia\'s housing properties are ours too.\" Pensions have so far avoided the knife among the tough spending cuts and other measures that the government says will save tens of billions of euros to cut Spain\'s deficit and eventually get its economy going again. But the Yayoflautas say they are driven by solidarity since the cuts could spread. \"We have to do something, because no one will do it for us,\" said Pilar Goytre, 65, who on June 14 joined a delegation that lodged a complaint against ex-managers of Bankia. \"By the end of the summer, they\'ll be cutting pensions too.\"

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