Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, the left-wing mayor of a small town in Andalusia of Spain, has been organizing raids on local supermarkets to feed the poor.
Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo has, over the past week, led several raids on supermarkets around the town of Marinaleda, near Seville in southern Spain, arguing that “someone has to do something so that families can eat.”
Sanchez, 53, who has been mayor for 33 years and a member for the regional parliament of Andalusia for the United Left party (IU), did not take part in the raids themselves but stood outside the supermarkets directing his “comrades” over a megaphone.
At one Carrefour supermarket on Tuesday around a dozen carts were filled with staples such as milk, sugar, oil, pasta, before being wheeled through the checkout without payment.
Another similar looting, at a Mercadona in the neighboring town of Ecija occurred later the same day and Sanchez vowed the raids would continue.
“There are people who simply don’t have enough to eat,” explained Sanchez, describing the raids as a symbolic and peaceful reaction to the government’s handling of the economic crisis.
“We’ve decided to expropriate basic foodstuffs and give them to the soup kitchens, which are struggling to provide for everyone because demand has increased.”
The major political parties have condemned the raids, which come at a time when Spain is grappling with deep austerity cuts and a nationwide unemployment of nearly 25 percent.
In the Andalusia region, where the collapse of the construction industry has hit particularly hard, the unemployment rate has soared to nearly 34 percent.
Five people have been arrested for taking part in the raids but police have not arrested Sanchez because of his position as regional MP. Instead, he has been asked to give a statement in front of an investigating magistrate.