Spain’s Robin Hood
Claiming Mahatma Gandhi, Karl Marx, and Che Guevara as inspirations, but also “anonymous people who think differently,” Sánchez Gordillo defends his protest actions as “symbolic, designed to show who is to blame and who is the victim” in the country’s deepening crisis. He rails against the supermarket practice of throwing out food when people are going hungry and accuses the stores of setting artificially low prices for farmers’ produce to reap huge profits. He claims that Spain’s current financial woes, in general, stem not from “excessive debt, but from excessive theft” with, in particular, “the banks buying money [from the European Central Bank] at 0.75 percent and lending it to the state at 7 percent.” This, he says, constitutes “a swindle within a swindle” and is abetted by both the main political parties. (He’s slightly out of date as the lending rate has shrunk to 6 percent.)
Fernando López Noguero, a professor in the sociology department of the University of Pablo Olavide in Seville, says protests such as theirs “with great media resonance” are needed. But he’s concerned that if the crisis worsens, “they could slip into ‘the law of the jungle’ where the domain of law is no longer respected.” He worries that “violent demands may begin to spread, thanks to the breach opened by the crisis.”
As poverty has grown in Spain, with few credible solutions being discussed, the agrarian socialist model of Sánchez Gordillo’s Marinaleda, with its promise of guaranteed income, food, and housing, has piqued popular interest. In the wake of the supermarket raids, Spain’s two establishment political parties rushed to disparage him and, by extension, the policies he pursued as mayor. Alfonso Alonso, the ruling Partido Popular’s parliamentary spokesman, dismissed Sánchez Gordillo as someone who “wants to be famous” and declared that “you can’t be both Robin Hood and collect a salary as Sheriff of Nottingham.” (Sánchez Gordillo serves pro bono as mayor of Marinaleda.) The president of Andalusia’s regional government and a member of PSOE (Spain’s primary, mainstream socialist party), José Antonio Griñán, called Sánchez Gordillo’s raids “an act of barbarism”; the PSOE itself has come out in favor of legal action against the mayor. That the PSOE has shown him no sympathy proves to Sánchez Gordillo’s followers that the main socialist party colludes with the country’s banking and financial sectors, which they hold responsible for the economic crisis.
Full article here.