MADRID - Madrid is preparing a lavish welcome for Pope Benedict when he attends a Roman Catholic youth festival this week, but he will also face protests over its cost at a time of economic hardship.
Criticism has come from "Los Indignados" (Indignant Ones) protest movement, whose mostly young supporters occupied Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square in May to protest against government spending cuts, economic woes, and 21 percent unemployment.
"We are not organizing a protest against the Pope but to complain about an event which is very expensive in times of crisis and high unemployment," said Evaristo Villar, a priest and member of Redes Cristianos, which will stage a protest on Wednesday night on the eve of the Pope's arrival. "An event of this kind has no place in a country with five million unemployed," he said.
One specific grievance has been special reductions on public transport for visiting pilgrims when locals are being charged up to 50 percent more for a single bus or metro ticket.