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:
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.
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.)
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.