Spanish workers take over farm land to protest the horribly nonsensical consequences of capitalism
Outmaneuvering the police, hundreds of jobless farmworkers charged through a hole in a fence and turned the manicured gardens of a vacant estate here in Spain’s agricultural heartland into a lively fairground of protest this week. Men more accustomed to working in the fields lounged in the shade beside a pink palace, picnicked on paella and spent a night relaxing. Some even took a dip in the pool.
“We’re here to denounce a social class who leaves such places to waste,” said Diego Cañamero, the leader of the Andalusian Union of Workers, addressing the demonstrators who had occupied the property, the Palacio de Moratalla. For all of the estate’s grandeur, the owner, the Duke of Segorbe, lives in Andalusia’s capital, Seville, about 60 miles away.
The occupation was a demonstration of the class conflicts that simmer amid complaints about austerity andjoblessness in Spain. Such protests have gathered pace in this farm region in Spain’s south in recent weeks, adding a volatile dimension to the country’s economic downturn. They have also pointed to a deeper anger about the shape of Spain’s economy and democracy.
The resentment here over land that has been left uncultivated at a time of deepening recession and record joblessness reaches beyond local politicians and landowners to European Union bureaucrats. Agricultural subsidies are criticized by many here as favoring landed interests, paying them not to grow crops when nearly a third of the work force in Andalusia is unemployed.