1708540966 Thousands of farmers are venting their anger on the streets

Thousands of farmers are venting their anger on the streets of Madrid

Farmers demonstration in Madrid, February 21, 2024. Peasants' demonstration in Madrid, February 21, 2024. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

“The rural world is dying”: The angry movement of Spanish farmers reached the center of Madrid on Wednesday February 21, where huge columns of tractors demonstrated against the precariousness of the sector, mirroring the movements that have roiled several European countries. Several thousand farmers from all over Spain took to the streets of the capital for a concert of horns, cowbells and drums at the call of the Union de Uniones (Confederation of Trade Unions), but groups of farmers also mobilized social networks.

According to the prefecture, 500 of them managed to reach the city center on tractors. Grouped in five columns of about a hundred vehicles, they joined the Ministry of Agriculture behind signs that proclaimed, in particular: “Without the land, the city cannot eat.”

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The culmination of a movement of anger that began three weeks ago in the wake of demonstrations organized particularly in France and Germany, this demonstration caused numerous traffic jams and sparked some tensions with the police.

Interviewed on public television, the national coordinator of the Union de Uniones, Luis Cortés, called on the Spanish government to make more efforts to “simplify” administrative procedures and protect farmers, many of whom are forced “to live at a loss sell”.

A farmer protests with his cow in front of the Ministry of Agriculture in Madrid, February 21, 2024. A farmer protests with his cow in front of the Ministry of Agriculture in Madrid, February 21, 2024. NACHO DOCE / Portal

We need better “import control,” argued the union leader, questioning unfair competition from products imported from non-European countries. They must be subject to “the same” environmental regulations as Spanish farmers, he emphasized.

In addition to this meeting in Madrid, several other demonstrations took place on Wednesday in Spain, notably in Murcia (southeast), Palencia (north) and Malaga (south), this time at the call of the three professional associations representing the sector: Asaja, COAG and UPA .

The implementation of “mirror clauses”

In a press release, Agriculture Minister Luis Planas assured that he was “fully involved” in “providing answers to the concerns of farmers,” recalling that last week he presented a package of support measures for the agricultural sector in a meeting with the unions .

The minister also vowed again in Brussels on Monday to defend the introduction of “mirror clauses”, a mechanism that requires imported products to comply with the same rules required of European farmers.

This movement of agrarian anger has affected many other European countries since the beginning of the year. In France, where large demonstrations took place at the end of January but were suspended following a series of government announcements, a highway was again blocked by farmers on Wednesday morning.

In Greece, where thousands of farmers and more than a hundred tractors gathered in front of the parliament in Athens on Tuesday, demonstrators began leaving the city on Wednesday. They will have to decide in the coming days what measures to take against the movement.

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In view of this outburst of anger, which comes a few months before the European elections in early June, the European Commission has also made concessions in recent weeks, particularly with regard to the goals of reducing the use of pesticides in the European Union.

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The world with AFP