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Raids Target Supermarkets in Spain

Translated Saturday 11 August 2012, by Stephan Crown-Weber and reviewed by Isabelle Métral

Two left-wing activists were arrested after leading an operation to “expropriate” food from two Andalusian supermarkets. A local elected official is also facing arrest.

José Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, a regional representative from the leftist party Izquierda Unida and mayor of the village of Marinaleda, is expected to receive a summons shortly. Two militants from the Andalusian Union of Workers (Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores) have already spent the night in a Seville police station and are slated to appear before a judge soon. As SAT union official José Caballero explained to Agence France-Presse, “We know that Sanchez Gordillo and maybe some other comrades will be called before the judge, but a summons hasn’t come yet.”

“This is a really tough time for a lot of families”

Spearheaded by the SAT union, Tuesday’s demonstrations protested unemployment and the economic situation in Andalusia. The way SAT’s national spokesman and demonstration leader Diego Cañamero explained it, the idea behind the protests was to take twenty-or-so shopping carts’ worth of food from two supermarkets“ so people could eat.” “People don’t have money to pay for their house or electricity or water. In the cities, in the villages, there are people in debt, and many families have had their water cut off. That’s how we came up with the plan,” he added.

One of the targeted supermarkets let SAT demonstrators take twelve shopping carts without filing a complaint. But the Mercadona supermarket chain, the operation’s other target, lodged a complaint against the SAT for stealing nine carts, and the Ministry of the Interior issued an arrest warrant for the commando unit that included José Manuel Sanchez Gordillo.

It’s worth noting that these sorts of flash protests aren’t practiced by French groups like “L’Appel et la Pioche” (The Call and the Pickaxe), which organizes unauthorized "picnics" in supermarkets to denounce the price markups at large retailers.

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