Thursday, September 21

More than 100,000 people take Madrid to defend the rural world

Great demonstration ‘The rural world awakes’ in Madrid. / EP

An orange tide of farmers, ranchers, irrigators, fishermen, hunters and people from the world of the bull launch an “SOS” to the Government

Tens of thousands of people – more than 100,000, according to the first estimates of the Delegation and 400,000 according to the conveners – flood the center of Madrid in what is called to be the largest rural protest in the history of Spain. A tide of the most eclectic people mobilized by the ’20Mrural’ platform has taken the heart of the Spanish capital since early in the morning, long before the great demonstration began at 11:00 in front of the Ministry of Agriculture , in Atocha.

The cries against the Government, which are many, are also mixed with desperate requests for help. An «SOS» so as not to let the rural world «die», «asphyxiated» in the years and months due to the increase in fuel, electricity, raw materials and drought and also in recent weeks and days due to the increase in cereal prices for the animals due to the invasion of the Ukraine and the carriers’ strike that prevents the production of the rural world from being brought to the market.

The objective of the conveners of achieving a massive and transversal protest indicates that it will be achieved without problems. Few demonstrations in Spain have elicited the response of as many groups as those seen this Sunday on the asphalt of Paseo de la Castellana: farmers, ranchers, irrigators, fishermen, hunters, people from the world of bullfighting, small rural tourism entrepreneurs, beekeepers …



Different professions and different origins, because today in the main artery of Madrid it is impossible not to find the flag of an autonomous community, although the national banners and the banners of the giant unions of the field, COAG, ASAJA and UPA, predominate.

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Aboard 45 tractors, various carts, donkeys or on horseback, surrounded by chickens, cows or sheep and behind the slogan ‘The Rural World Wakes Up’ the slogans, shouts and banners are as varied as the groups participating in this historic march . Although the ’20Mrural’ platform has insisted on its apolitical nature, the truth is that the presence of well-known faces of the opposition is visible, such as the ‘popular’ Cuca Gamarra, Fernando López Miras or Esteban González Pons; the leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal (who returns to the streets after the concentration of his party on Saturday in Madrid to protest the high prices); or Edmundo Bal from Ciudadanos.

‘orange tide’

Criticism and attacks on the Government are also seen and heard everywhere. «Sánchez traitor», «Government of wolves, town of Borregos», «outside the ministers who attack the countryside», «Podemita and living room ecologist, come and live in the town as I live»… Particularly harsh with the socialist Executive They are mostly hunters. The ‘orange tide’, the color chosen by the hunting group, has between “eyebrows” the ‘Animal Welfare Law’ and “restrictions on the world of hunting”, which “threaten to end thousands of jobs forever of work in a rural environment that you are already in a coma». The voices against the parties that support the prohibition of wolf hunting are also loud, almost as much as that of the professionals who live off the fighting bull, who do not spare the two parties of the central Executive either.

But beyond more or less political claims, the messages are desperate cries from people who do not see a way to save their way of life if things, laws and the way of looking at rural economies do not change. «Cattle ranchers against the ropes», «They are starving us», «In defense of the olive grove and its partners», «I am a rural world and I am bullfighting», «The survival of the countryside belongs to everyone»… A skeleton on the that hangs a poster with the legend “Spanish farmer, SOS” and an obituary announcing the “Death of Mr. Mundo Rural after 10,000 years of life”, graphically summarizes the restlessness that is breathed everywhere.

Calls for attention from some workers who also make it clear in the big city that they do not want urbanites to give anything away because, as one of the most recurrent banners recalls, “If the countryside dies, the city does not eat.” “We want solutions, not subsidies” or “For a rural world alive and without handouts”, are other posters and slogans that can be seen I go all the way. Those little more than 4 kilometers that separate the Plaza del Emperador Carlos V, in front of the Ministry of Agriculture in Atocha, to the Fuente de San Juan de la Cruz, at the gates of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, are full of color, but the atmosphere it is not festive. The anxiety of the protesters is perceived, even above the drumming and the constant noise of the cowbells that accompany the march from the beginning.

The demonstration had been planned for months, but the increases in the prices of raw materials, fuel and energy that have been experienced since the beginning of the year have only aggravated the situation of thousands of families in the agricultural and livestock sector. That is why this demonstration is expected to be a “historic” and massive event, with more than 1,500 buses arriving in Madrid from all over Spain.

“I am concerned about those who believe that the universal solution to problems is to lower taxes”

“It is time to unite our voices against ineffective policies that are turning their backs on those who work every day to fill the refrigerators of all Spaniards and to take care of an environment that we all need and that we all enjoy,” they say. from the Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers (UPA).

It is the first time that nine different associations with diverse interests come together to claim their rights. These are Asaja, COAG, UPA, the National Hunting Office, the Rural Alliance, the Royal Spanish Hunting Federation, the Spanish Irrigation Federation, the Union of Fighting Bull Breeders and Agro-food Cooperatives.

The 20M Rural has emphasized the apolitical nature of the demonstration because they want the only protagonists to be farmers, ranchers and the rural world as a whole. In its
joint manifestdemand a shock plan from the Government due to the rise in energy prices, a fair Common Agricultural Policy (PAC) or the application of the Food Chain Law, which although it was reformed so as not to be able to sell at a loss, they denounce that it is not fulfilling.

From the Government they defend their policies and assure that many of these demands are already being fulfilled. In an interview with this newspaper, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, assured that the underlying feeling of the mobilization is that “the rural world wants to be heard since they were essential in the hardest moments of the pandemic” . In addition, he announced that his cabinet hopes that Europe grants “a good endowment” of funds to mitigate the “difficulties” that the field is going through.

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