Spain: Left local politician sentenced to three and a half year jail term following a protest against mass unemployment
By Carmela Negrete
In Spain, protesting against mass unemployment is now punishable by several years of imprisonment. Yesterday (Tuesday, 29 March) the trade unionist Andrés Bólada was put on trial and sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
Andrés Bólada is one of the best known personalities of the anti-capitalist movement in rural southern Spain. Now 41 years old, he had to give up school when he was 9, in order to earn some money as a handyman. He has been active in the agricultural workers’ trade union SAT for decades. Last Summer, Bodalo was elected to the city council for the left wing alliance Jaén en Común. In December he stood in the Jaén province for the left party Podemos.
“In a community of 12,000 inhabitants, more than half are unemployed”, he reported in an interview with the junge Welt newspaper. In protest against this, his trade union occupied the local community centre in 2012. After three weeks, the centre was cleared, and the occupiers moved in front of the town hall. This led to a confrontation, as the deputy mayor Juan Ibarra – a politician for the social democrat PSOE party – roughly pushed his way into the town hall, receiving slaps and punches from the furious demonstrators. His injuries were so limited that the politician could attend a subsequent council meeting without any problem. “There were police on the ground, who have testified that I didn’t hit anyone. Even the Guardia Civil produced video evidence on which it is clear to see that I didn’t attack anyone” reported Bódalo. Despite this, the judge sentenced him to 30 months jail and a €1,800 fine. He believes that he is the victim of a political ruling, aimed at silencing the movement – and this is not the only such case. “For four decades, our trade union has been politically and legally persecuted. 600 of our colleagues have been affected by civil actions demanding over a million Euros in fines and more than 300 years in prison sentences”, he explained.
“If the legal system condemns me, the people will exonerate me”, Bódalo told the jW with conviction. On Tuesday, as he presented himself in front of the trade union headquarters in Jaén, he was accompanied by the Andalusian general secretary of Podemos Teresa Rodriguez and the mayor of Marinaleda, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo. Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, United Left (IU) parliamentary spokesperson Alberto Garzón and Barcelona mayor Ada Colau also demanded that the trade unionist be pardoned. SAT plans an indefinite protest rally in Jaén, which will carry on until Bódalo is free again. Additionally, the trade union’s national coordinator, Oscar Reina Gómez announced on Tuesday that on 1 May his organisation will reoccupy the estate of the Spanish military. In previous years, the union has regularly occupied and taken over the management of such Fincas. Beyond the borders of Andalusia, an estate like Gut Somonte have become famous after it was taken over by agricultural workers in 2012.
This article originally appeared in German in the 30 March edition of junge Welt: https://www.jungewelt.de/2016/03-30/002.php.