La lucha continua becomes La lluita continua

Activists at the Dia supermarket, Vilafranca del Penedes

Activists celebrate

The practice of storming supermarkets, filling trolleys with the basic necessities of life and then leaving without paying is spreading. After starting in a couple of places in Andalusia groups with a similar agenda have carried such activities in Merida, Extremadura and most recently in a town in Catalonia.

I’ve written a couple of times about the groups of people who have invaded supermarkets and taken food without paying in order to then give it to people who haven’t any resources whatsoever and depend upon charity to survive. This in a country that is part of what is supposed to be one of the biggest economic players on the planet.

This is now starting to spread.

On August 24th 50 or so people invaded a Carrefour supermarket in Merida, Extremadura. They were stopped from taking anything away as the police arrived before they could do so but whether actually taking the goods was the aim of the action is not important. The main reason is to bring to a greater public attention the severe difficulties in which some people are living. All these actions are taken in the full light of day and they often film themselves. If you are interested in seeing a short video of the action follow this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1748bdwTgY8

One of the things I found interesting about the particular case in Merida was that although the police wanted to arrest one of the leaders this did not happen as Carrefour didn’t make any accusation against him. This, I’m sure, is a directive from up on high in Carrefour as the company wants to avoid any sort of reprisals such as those called for in the boycott of Mercadona who DID make accusations against those who invaded one of their supermarkets in Andalusia.

Not an expert on law but don’t think that would be the case in the UK. If I understand it correctly in UK law it is not for the ‘victim’ to decide whether a crime has been committed, but things might be different in Spain.

What’s important to remember here is that Andalusia and Extremadura are, and have been historically, two of the poorest regions of Spain, not least as there is little industry and the majority of the population depend upon agriculture or tourism for their living.

In the video you can hear the slogan of ‘The people united will never be defeated’ and they also shouted ‘If there’s no bread for the poor then there will be no peace for the rich’.

In a press conference one of the leaders said that there was ‘no Urdangarin here’ (a reference to the husband of one of the princesses of the Spanish Royal family who is currently under investigation for corruption and dipping into the public purse) and ‘no hunter of elephants here’ (in reference to a picture of the King of Spain, Juan Carlos Borbon, standing, gun in hand, beside a dead African elephant). So no royalists in this demonstration.

Although in Spanish you can get a bit more information from this link:

http://www.kaosenlared.net/component/k2/item/28541-parados-de-m%C3%A9rida-acuden-al-carrefour-a-expropiar-alimentos.html

Earlier this week, on Monday afternoon, September 3rd, things spread further afield and a similar action took place in the town of Vilafranca del Penedes, close to Tarragona, in Catalonia.

Another of the big supermarket chains in Spain/Catalonia, this one called Dia, was invaded by a group of people who got away with food to the value of €241.45. This time they attempted to pay with a card that had no credit but took the food anyway. The manager tried to lock everyone in until the police arrived but they found a way out and got the food taken away, only to then wait for the police to arrive outside.

The group in Vilafranca was started in order to assist those people whose homes were being repossessed after they had fallen victims ‘in the good times’ to something similar to the sub-prime mortgage scheme that started the whole house of cards falling in the US. However, they see that homelessness, poverty and hunger go hand in hand and see no contradiction in their previous stated aim and what they did yesterday.

There’s never any attempt to do things surreptitiously as they are all wearing t-shirts saying who they are and what their aim is. It seems the only growth industry in the country is that which produces t-shirts with slogans against the rich and powerful. Some of those present were arrested and they will face the courts on Wednesday of this week but they have already planned a press conference and demonstration before they enter the courtroom.

A couple of thoughts come to mind following this latest event. The first is that some employees of the supermarkets are still putting themselves forward as defenders of their company, its shareholders and their millionaire owners. In my first post about these events I made reference to an open letter sent by an activist to the woman who was so upset about the supermarket raid in Andalusia.

Secondly, I have been told by a number of people I’ve spoken to here in Catalonia over the last few weeks that this region is one of the richest in Spain and, in fact, gives more to the Spanish state than it receives. If this is true (and I don’t have the figures to hand to say one way or the other) then why are the people of Catalonia allowing their own citizens to fall into such a desperate economic situation that they feel they have to take food from the groaning shelves of the supermarkets?

The welfare state in Britain has been under attack since the moment it was established and has been chipped away at in the intervening years. However, although some would like to go even further with more cuts in such spending, in theory, at least, people in Britain should never be allowed to get into such desperate straits.

For more information another couple of links.

The first gives a brief break down of events (this time in Catalan) and also a link to Flickr where you can see some photos taken at the time. (Still have yet to work out how to put such a link directly into my posts.)

http://xarxapenedes.cat/ara-mateix-un-grup-dactivistes-de-la-pah-assalten-un-supermercat-de-vilafranca/

The second is a link to the blog of the organisation that organised the ‘attack’ on Monday. It’s a bit confusing, I think, but the ‘Los Videos’ link at the top takes you to a page where there are a number of YouTube videos showing what they have been involved in in the past.

http://afectadosporlahipoteca.wordpress.com/

See also:

‘Liberating’ basic foodstuffs from supermarkets in Andulasia

Charity is the answer!

‘Liberating’ basic foodstuffs from supermarkets in Andulasia

 

The more rich the bigger the thief

El que es muy rico

An Andalusian trade union removes trollies of food from 2 supermarkets without paying in order to then provide the basic necessities of life to those unable to afford them. Bankers and others who steal from the public – those who have caused the present crisis – immune from prosecution call for the full force of the law to be used against these ´thieves´. 

Supermarkets are stuffed full of food (they even throw some of it away at the end of the day) but in Spain there is an increasing number of people who go hungry. What to do?

The decision of one trade union in Andalusia, the Sindicato Andaluz de Trajabadores/as (SAT), was to go into two supermarkets, fill a number of trolleys to the brim with basic and everyday necessities and then walk out without paying. This food was then distributed to people who had no money whatsoever to buy such necessities.

SAT members raiding supermarket

Can’t pay, won’t pay

This follows, in a number of ways, the scenario of the play ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’, written by the Italian satirist Dario Fo in the 1970s. Checking some information about this on the internet I see that there are a number of theatre companies around the UK who are, or have been, performing this play as it rings so many bells in the contemporary situation in many European countries.

The attack on the supermarkets happened on Monday 6th August and I don’t know what sort of coverage (if any) this has had in the British press, the Olympics being useful (yet again) to hide any bad news or anything that might be important.

Aznar and Gonzalez

Ex- Prime Ministers feed from the trough

SAT argued that in a society, and at a time, when money was given to bankers and their ilk by the wagon load there was ample justification for their actions.

Not surprisingly the owners of the two supermarkets, Mercadona and Carrefour, did not agree and have been calling for the full force of the law to be used against the individuals directly concerned as well as the trade union. In response the union has begun a campaign for a boycott of Mercadona, being the most vociferous in its call for the use of the courts to defend the sanctity of private property, until they withdraw their claims against the union. It seems the company has a history of illegal and unjustified sackings with accusations of discrimination being upheld in the courts. That would seem to be one of the reasons that that particular supermarket was chosen for the raid.

Mercadona has a history of being a bad employer

Mercadona – the perfect employer?

The last news I’ve seen is that those who’d been arrested have been released but the matter will not rest there. Not to prosecute could lead to copy cat activities throughout the region (if not further afield) but taking them to court could turn them into martyrs. The propaganda war is already on with local people being interviewed who say that such action goes too far but don’t offer any suggestions about what should be done instead. It’s early days yet but will try to keep an eye on developments.

One bit of information I received whilst discussing this matter is the fact that there is (or at least was) a law under Spanish jurisprudence that allows for the hungry to take food, as long as no violence is involved. The fact that the food taken in these supermarket raids could not be classified in any way as luxuries might well mean that this case could fall within the meaning of this law. Being, as we are in the UK, used to ancient laws being resurrected so that the state can exact its revenge against workers (such as the Shrewsbury Three) or brought out to pull the state out of the mess it has got itself into (such as the Pentonville Five in the Dockers’ Strike in 1972 with the mysterious one and only appearance of the Official Solicitor) it’s interesting that a law exists which can be used by workers. Not that we should put any faith in laws introduced by a capitalist state.

In Britain the tendency is to suffer in silence. When people do take the law into their own hands, as some did in different cities throughout the UK this time last year, they were condemned because they stole trainers and TVs and NOT foodstuffs. Would people’s attitudes have been different if all that was looted was the milk, eggs, potatoes, flour and the like used to produce a healthy and substantial meal? Now that would be a real danger to society.

Poster calling for a Boycot of Mercadona.

Boycott Mercadona!

The images in this post depict the general argument of the Union. Who are the real thieves? The ones who steal cooking oil to give to the hungry, or those who seek to increase their already vast fortunes, including ex-Prime Ministers, of both the conservative and so-called socialist breed.

Although in Spanish you can click here for the link for SAT for more information on how things are developing.

See also:

La lucha continua becomes La lluita continua

Workers take over a palace in Andulasia

 

Charity is the answer!