© Samuel Aranda, 2012, In Spain, Austerity and Hunger

#1: Union supporters protested government cuts during a rally in Jimena, in southern Spain.  As the country tries desperately to meet its budget targets, it has been forced to embark on the same path as Greece, introducing one austerity measure after another, cutting jobs, salaries, pensions and benefits, even as the economy continues to shrink.

#2: People demonstrated in Barcelona against recent cuts to free medical assistance for illegal immigrants. Little relief is in sight as the country’s regional governments, facing their own budget crisis, are chipping away at a range of previously free services, including school lunches for low-income families.

#3: An unused street in the coastal city of Benidorm, which was a growing tourist destination before the financial crisis.  Spain enjoyed a long boom after joining the euro zone, as low interest rates fueled a surge in construction. But it came to an end with the 2008 financial crisis, and the resulting recession sent the unemployment rate soaring.

As Spain tries desperately to meet its budget targets, it has been forced to embark on the same path as Greece, introducing one austerity measure after another, cutting jobs, salaries, pensions and benefits, even as the economy continues to shrink.

Most recently, the government raised the value-added tax three percentage points, to 21 percent, on most goods, and two percentage points on many food items, making life just that much harder for those on the edge. Little relief is in sight as the country’s regional governments, facing their own budget crisis, are chipping away at a range of previously free services, including school lunches for low-income families. (read more)