LONDON - A flamenco troupe bursts into a bank branch in Seville in southern Spain, lampooning bankers in dance and song. Further north, in Galicia, 50 men dressed in prison garb march into a bank shouting slogans against costly state bailouts for lenders.
In Barcelona and Madrid, a growing organisation of elderly protesters stage regular "occupations" of bank branches, wearing reflective vests and carrying signs decrying the bailouts. The deepening economic crisis has prompted creative protests among Spaniards frustrated at budget cuts in schools and hospitals. YouTube videos of the flamenco protests are all the rage and Spaniards circulate a growing flow of e-mail jokes and spoofs to try to alleviate grim expectations that they will be the next European country to need a full international rescue package. The most frequent protest target is Bankia, one of Spain's biggest banks, which was taken over by the state in May in the most costly bank bailout in Spanish history, estimated at some 23.5 billion euros.