By Humphrey Carter

SMALL business people from Majorca and across the Balearics joined thousands of fellow struggling colleagues from across the country at a mass demonstration in Madrid yesterday to demand urgent government help to prevent thousands of small businesses from being forced to close.

The President of the Majorcan Small Business Association, Mariano Riera, said that the small business sector has been given little option but take to the streets. “Many of us are in serious danger of going under and the government is not doing enough to help and the banks are still not releasing credit as they've been told,” he said. Riera admitted that the Balearics is not suffering as badly as other parts of the country and championed the fact that unemployment did not rise in the region last month. “That was a positive sign but we have a long way to go and what we need is to be allowed to operate with the financial backing we need from government and banks to safeguard our futures and that of our employees,” he explained before heading to Madrid to take part in the rally which ended by demanding that Prime Minister JoseLuis Rodriguez Zapatero resigns over his poor handling of the recession in Spain.

As the Bulletin reported yesterday, as many as 600 resort bars, restaurants and shops could face closure this year if the tourist season does not take off and Riera warns that unless more cash aid is made available along with significant reductions and breaks in business taxes to help ease the financial burden, the final figure could be much larger.