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Robin Hood Mayors, Activists in Spain Fight Back Against Crippling Recession

Activists lead two 'symbolic' supermarket raids for families 'who can't afford to eat'; vow there will be more such raids

Common Dreams staff

Sanchez Gordillo (2nd left) raises his fists with two workers who were arrested in the supermarket raids. (photo: REUTERS/Jon Nazca)

Local officials and activists in Spain staged Robin Hood-style supermarket sweeps in what they say are symbolic gestures to confront the crisis affecting families in the recession-hit country suffering the effects of austerity measures.

On Tuesday, mayor of the municipality of Marinaleda in Andalusia, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, joined by Andalusian Union of Workers (SAT) members, led a raid of a supermarket in Seville. Meanwhile, the general secretary of SAT, Diego Cañamero, led an additional raid at another supermarket. The groups filled shopping carts with food staples and left without paying saying the food would be donated to the needy.  Pedro Romero, mayor of the nearby town of Espera, also took part in the raid and said he would continue to act in the interests of the “least fortunate.”

Two workers were arrested in the raids on Wednesday but were released on bail.

“I have no problem in answering for my actions,” Sánchez Gordillo said on Thursday. “All we did was make a symbolic and peaceful gesture. The crisis has a face and a name. There are many families who can’t afford to eat.”

On Wednesday, Sánchez Gordillo promised there would be more such raids.

Echoing popular anger over banks that have received bailouts while the general population is dealt cuts, Sánchez Gordillo added, “In Andalusia and in Spain, it’s not the political powers that are in charge, it’s the banks, who have no heart, feelings or country.”

On Friday, Sánchez Gordillo and other activists were evicted from a farm owned by the Spanish defense ministry they had occupied for 18 days in a call for more equal distribution of land in Andalusia.  

Spain's unemployment rate is the highest in Europe at nearly 25%, with the region of Andalusia suffering "with a jobless rate of 34 per cent, rising to 63 per cent for people under the age of 25."

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