Spanish ‘Robin Hood’ mayor becomes cult hero after ordering raids on local supermarkets – before handing out food to poor families
PUBLISHED: 01:10 GMT, 16 August 2012 | UPDATED: 16:01 GMT, 16 August 2012
A Spanish mayor has been hailed an austerity-era Robin Hood after directing trolley dash raids on local supermarkets – then handing food out to poor families.
Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, mayor of the small Andalusian town of Marinaleda, has become a cult hero for master-minding the thefts.
The two raids took place last week, with seven labour unionists arrested for piling food into the trolleys then leaving without paying.
Marinaleda Mayor Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, 59, gestures as he speaks during a popular assembly in Marinaleda, southern Spain
Mr Sanchez Gordillo (centre), 59, organised trolley-dash raids at local supermarkets and handed the food out to poor families
Mr Gordillo, 59, shouted encouragement from outside using a megaphone and was surrounded by supporters.
He said the stolen food, mainly staples like pasta and oil, was distributed to families hit hardest by the economic crisis.
“There are people who don’t have enough to eat. In the 21st century, this is an absolute disgrace,” he said,
He has political immunity as an elected member of Andalusia’s regional parliament, but says he would be happy to renounce it and be arrested himself.
Mayor for the past 30 years, Mr Gordillo says he wants to draw attention to the human face of Spain’s economic crisis.
Poverty levels throughout the country have risen by more than 15 percent since 2007, a quarter of workers are jobless and tens of thousands have been evicted from their homes.
Marinaleda – population 2,645 – is located in Andalusia where one in three people is unemployed
Marinaleda’s cooperative farmers use a tractor to prepare the irrigation system for growing artichokes
In his home region of Andalusia, one in three people is unemployed
But the conservative government says an official has no business flouting the law.
“You can’t be Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham,” said Alfonso Alonso, spokesman for the ruling People’s Party (PP). “This man is just searching for publicity at the cost of everyone else.”
Media coverage of the supermarket stunt has made Mr Gordillo a national celebrity, with ordinary people thanking him for his stand against the government.
He will remain in the spotlight today (THUR), when he sets of on a three-week anti-austerity march to Madrid, enduring blistering summer heat.
Along the way he will try to persuade other local leaders to refuse to comply with government reforms.
The EU has demanded that Spain shrink its budget deficits to prevent the eurozone debt crisis from spreading.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has ordered spending cuts and tax hikes, but with poverty rising protests have gained momentum.