News from the debt crisis in Spain and the rise of a global response
"Those kilos of rice and beans have gone around the world"
Por DIAGONAL English

By Beatriz Bonete / Translated by Susana Macías Pascua and Rob Dyas

Unionist from rural Andalusia outlines the reason of the latest actions set up by his union.

DIAGONAL: How were these actions in the supermarkets concocted and what were your goals?

DIEGO CAÑAMERO: From the very moment the crisis was heralded in 2007, the Andalusian Workers Union (SAT in the Spanish abbreviation) decided not to stand aside, but to start a mobilisation to better inform public opinion. In 2008, we began to occupy the first banks: we occupied the Santander Bank’s branch in Seville. And then we went to Granada to take up a property company’s office; in Málaga we occupied the airport. We were in Seville occupying the AVE (high-speed train) and Canal Sur (regional TV channel), too. We went on general strike in the Sierra de Cádiz and Sierra Sur in Seville, and we also organized a few marches, and so on. In the second phase of the struggle we set out to connect with public opinion, unions and social movements in order to set up a struggle and sustain it over time. In addition, we agreed upon some other actions like the permanent appropriation of lands, protests, demonstrations and, among them, the expropriation of foodstuffs, essential items, both in protest and in order to highlight a wide ranging problem in Andalusian society, which is the fact that there are 350.000 families now with no social protection at all.

D.: How have you organized the latest actions?

D.C.: On 4th March, Asomonte was occupied; later on 24th July the lands of Somonte in Palma del Río and Las Turquillas in Osuna were also taken. On 7th August we carried out two actions, one in Mercadona in Écija and another one in Carrefour in Arcos (both of them chains of supermarkets), where some groups of people went in pacifically to expropriate a few trolleys filled with food to be donated to needy people. It was a symbolic gesture, obviously, because 350.000 families cannot be fed with eight trolleys of food: we would have had to come back the following day to fetch some more. The idea was to point out a problem for the Government to take measures, such us the consideration of the basic income as a solution. However, those kilos of lentils, rice, beans and those milk cartons have gone around the world. And now we find ourselves in the middle of the shooting range of the most reactionary bourgeoisie. But, on the other hand, we have also found ourselves surrounded by people who value and support our action; and we are raising a whole collective enthusiasm not only in Andalusia but also in many places within the Spanish state and Europe.

D.: What kind of actions are you considering from now on?

D.C.: Well, the marches are being a total success. The marches have been accused of being violent and people are said to fear them, but we have seen, for example, in Jimena (Jaén), how everyone was waiting for us and encouraged us down the street. The marches are raising the spirits of many people who see in them a public expression of the idea that everybody can join the fight. Every march will entail an action, as the ones in the supermarkets, pointing to the perpetrators of the crisis, be it banks, supermarkets, landowners, and so on. All of them are the true culprits of the backward state and underdevelopment of this land.

D.: The issue appears to be whether one speaks in terms of either ‘theft’ or ‘expropriation’.

D.C.: Of course, they talk about theft, but that is what bankers do. Because bankers steal, extort and then, the PP party or any government legalizes the theft. Four or five kilos of lentils can get us between two to five years in jail: just for 50 Euros in foodstuffs in each trolley. Seven comrades were arrested, charged with aggravated robbery, threatening behaviour and public disorder, which could mean two to five years’ imprisonment. If 50 Euros leads to five years in jail, how long should someone be imprisoned for taking hundreds of millions of Euros? There wouldn’t be jails or number of years for them to be condemned. We are waiting for the trials to come. They have also instituted judicial proceedings against [Juan Manuel] Sánchez Gordillo. He has asked for his parliamentary privilege to be revoked and to be judged as a common citizen. And if disciplinary proceedings are to be brought against him, let them be brought.

D.: You said the foodstuffs ‘expropriated’ were to be donated to needy people. However, it was published in the media that Food Bank did not accept them due to the way in which they had been obtained.

D.C.: We never offered anything to the Food Bank. What happens is that some people in this country manipulate information. We offered them to Corrala in Seville (recent building taken up by evicted people), to several families who had occupied some houses and had nothing to eat. In Sierra de Cádiz, we offered them to the city council of Espera and Puerto Real, to the Social Services and they all accepted them. We did not give them to anybody else. But what happens is that when the Food Bank, or people who are supporters of the PP party or are against our actions are asked about it, they say that they disagree with us.

[This article was published in Spanish on August 30th, 2012]





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