On Tuesday, 200 members of the Andalusian fieldworkers' union, in an example of sheer civil disobedience, went to two supermarkets, filled up shopping carts, and left without paying. They then donated the food to the poor.
As austerity measures cut deeper into the lives of the Spanish people, drastic measures are being taken.
Now it is not just the 15m Indignados initiating civil disobedience, other members of the population have had enough too.
With 1.25 million Andalusians without work (approximately 34% of the working age population), nearly a quarter of the Spanish population is living under the poverty line. Hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers will shortly lose their meager unemployment benefits. The sales tax increases in September, meaning that virtually everything will go up in price. Meanwhile the government pushes billions of euros to bail out the banks.
According to a recent report by the Catholic charity Caritas Internationalis, 350,000 Andalusian families are currently under-nourished. Members of the Andalusian fieldworkers' union, (the Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores, or SAT) visited a Carrefour and a Mercedona supermarket on Tuesday (one in Ecija (Sevilla) and one in Arcos de la Frontera (Cádiz)), filled up shopping carts with milk, sugar, chickpeas, pasta, rice and other basic necessities, and walked out without paying.
In Arcos de la Frontera, police blocked the doors of the supermarket, preventing them from leaving, but in Ecija, due to other demonstrators creating a diversion, they managed to leave with twenty trolleys of food.
The workers then donated the food to 26 families in La Corrala Utopía (Sevilla) and three civic centers in three towns in the province of Cádiz.
They picked the particular supermarkets due to the fact that both have recently started locking dumpsters outside their stores with locks and chains. This is allegedly over health and safety concerns, arising from people fighting over their nearly expired contents. Workers feel that this food, which is still good, should be given to the poor.
The union also noted that Mercadona, one of the supermarkets concerned, has a huge number of complaints lodged against them for bullying and persecution of workers.
A spokesman for SAT, Sánchez Gordillo, says, “In this situation, we feel that the media and the government need to see that the crisis has first and last names, faces and ID cards.”
“Enough statistics. Look at people, look them in the eyes. If the government can’t look its own people in the eyes, if it always imposes austerity on the poor, then it’s illegitimate and should step down. It presented itself to elections with a program, and it’s imposing exactly the opposite.”
More expropriations, farmland and bank occupations have been called for by SAT, with marches from rural areas into the cities, connecting the plight of the rural poor with that of the urban. People all over the country are referring to taking a Robin Hood stance on shop-lifting as “pulling a Gordillo” (via the hashtag #HazteUnGordillo).