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Spain's Thatcher Square defaced again

The Local · 24 Sep 2014, 10:48

Published: 24 Sep 2014 10:48 GMT+02:00

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Madrid's newly baptized Margaret Thatcher Square was unofficially renamed on Tuesday after protesters placed a sticker over official signage renaming it "Exiled Youth Square".  

The guerrilla protest against Spain's high levels of youth unemployment — currently over 50 percent — took place at around 7pm on Tuesday evening, according to Spain's El País newspaper.

By 'rechristening' the square Plaza de la Juventud Exiliada (Square of Exiled Youth), the protesters hoped to draw attention to the plight of the thousands of young people who have been forced to leave Spain because of the country's economic crisis. 

The Local’s Alex Dunham arrived at the controversial square just as the professional looking stickers were about to be peeled off.

“I’m not a fan of Margaret Thatcher so I’m not in favour of the name they’ve given the square nor the lavish inauguration they had last week,” an employee of Madrid’s street sign authority argued.

“But it is still vandalism that will cost us €100 ($128) to fix and if they catch the culprit he can expect a much heftier fine.”

A passer-by overheard the maintenance worker and shouted: “I’m glad they’ve done it! What has Margaret Thatcher ever done for Spain? The new name is better!”

The protest action marked the second time in a week that the signage of the newly-named square honoring the the UK’s former conservative leader Margaret Thatcher has been defaced.

Less than a day after Madrid became the first city in the world to name a square after the controversial politician, British expats plastered the plaza’s signpost with stickers reading “Hillsborough Justice Campaign” and “Justice for the 96” — references to 1989’s Hillsborough stadium disaster which saw 96 Liverpool FC football fans crushed to death and 766 injured.

Thatcher, who was UK Prime Minister at the time, was accused along with British tabloid newspaper The Sun of laying the blame on the fans and backing police when the grieving families protested.

Unveiling the 'new square on September 15th, outgoing Madrid mayor Ana Botella hailed Thatcher's "commitment to freedom".

The square, in the conservative district of Salamanca has existed for decades but had never previously been named.

Margaret Thatcher, the first female British Prime Minister, died on April 8th last year at the age of 87. Many people mourned her passing but some opponents who view her as a pioneer of austerity politics held street parties.

However, Botella described the divisive British politician as "one of the great personalities of the 20th Century" and said that Madrid wished to "recognize Margaret Thatcher by putting her name on this great city".

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