Featured image: Hundreds of farmers in a rally. Source: Fernando Díaz / Agencia EFE
Since last February 6, the farmers of the Spanish State have taken the streets. Dozens of roads have been cut in different parts of the country, thus joining to a wave of protests that already goes through a large part of Europe, in one hand in oppressed nations such as Romania, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland but also in imperialist countries such as France, Germany, Belgium, and Italy. As in the rest of European countries, protesters in the Spanish State not only demand reforms from the State, but also reforms from the European Union. Among the measures, are the decrease in bureaucracy and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), fair prices, better coverage against drought and other environmental phenomena and solve the lack of workers in the field. Another important point is the stopping of agreements with semi-colonial and semi-feudal countries for the entry of products from these countries to the European Union, which they claim that it is unfair because the same requirements that are demanded for them, are not required for imports from the exterior of the EU. Especially Morocco, Asian countries, and stop the agreements with Mercosur, Chile, Kenya, Mexico and India are highlighted.
What is expressed in this wide-spread protest, which has mobilized thousands of farmers around Europe is the how the EU presses the farmers by putting them against each other in favor of the monopolies, especially German monopolies, which is the imperialist dominating the EU. The demands against the EU are more pronounced in the protests in the oppressed nations of Eastern and Central Europe. There it is seen how the European imperialists seek to benefit from the war of aggression against Ukraine and have allowed the free import of grain from Ukraine to the EU, despite Ukraine not being an EU country, and thus bringing down the producer prices of grain in these countries. The first protests of farmers and truck drivers in Europe started by the protests against the Ukrainian grain in Eastern European countries.
All over Europe demands have been made against the CAP, which is carried out on the pretense of achieving “climate-neutrality” in agriculture by 2050. This subsidy program would require the farmers to devote 4% of arable land to non-productive features and carry out crop rotations and reduce fertilizer use at least 20%. Especially in many imperialist countries of Europe, the agricultural production is already very centralized to agricultural monopolies and large farmers, and the amount of farms is decreasing. This program would further crush the small and medium sized farmers in the favor of the larger farmers and monopolies.
At the moment, energy and fuel prices have rapidly increased. In many countries, the farmers demand subventions from the State to cope with the increasing production costs. However, the one who benefits from the subventions are the monopolies selling the products; the increasing production costs are on the one hand taken out on the farmers, who are not getting more despite increasing food prices, and in the other on the “consumers” – in this way, the monopolies keep making incredible profits in the crisis. Despite this, the protests in many countries have mainly been demanding reforms from the State. However, in some places, for example in Southern Germany, there has been protests and blockade actions also against the central warehouses of monopolies.
During the protests in Spanish State, there have been 20 detainees, and there have been moments of clashes between the Civil Guard and the farmers. Especially when they have protested in front of the main supermarket chains, demanding a just price for their products. In one of the most violent, the anti-riot police threw tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.
Clashes with the police in the logistic center of the supermarket Mercadona in Antequera. Source: X
In face of this wave of protests in the Spanish State the different parties have not hesitated to try to take advantage of them in their favor. The current government, led by the PSOE, states that “it will reinforce the Food Chain Law” to improve the prices paid by the supplies chains to the farmers and it has announced an aid package of 4,000 million. Similarly, its opponent, the conservative party PP, has attacked the Government saying that this is a sample of the “neglect of the government” and how they are far from the “real Spain.” However, although both parties try to win the favor of the protesters, the truth is that the farmers also require each autonomous community to make changes in their respective laws, the majority of autonomous communities being affected by blockages and protests, no matter from which government or Party.
These protests in the Spanish State are mainly characterized by small farmers, who cannot survive based on agriculture and livestock. Within the farmers, there are different sectors, and these protests have been very polarized between small farmers and exploiters. This is seen in the especially in the demand regarding the lack of workers in the countryside. On Tuesday, February 13, the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations, Elma Saiz, will meet the organizations that have called the strike to address the issue of the lack of labor force in the countryside. The minister herself has already said that she will address the situation from the point of view of “circular, orderly and regular” migration, that is, migrants will be sought to replace this lack of work in a timely manner, yielding to one of the greatest demand of large entrepreneurs. It is not the first time that similar policies are carried out in the Spanish State. For example, one of the most prominent cases is the Temporary Workers of Huelva, 12,500 female workers who come to work in Spain from Morocco only during the strawberry season due to a treat signed between both countries. This case was especially echoed in the Spanish State, since a multitude of cases of sexual abuse and conditions of semi-slavery that the workers could not report because before any complaints, they would be fired and sent back without salary to Morocco. We also highlight the article of Servir al Pueblo where different forced labor networks for migrants of Colombian origin stand out. In addition to prostitution, the other large source of income is the workers of the countryside, who arrive in an “illegal” way and the exploiters take advantage of it to impose semi-slavery conditions.
These protests are another sign of the decomposition of imperialism. On the one hand, small and medium farmers from all over Europe are increasingly drowned by the monopolies, who impose abusive prices for farmers, while they get more profit each day more with the rise in the prices of the most basic food. On the other hand, the large companies take the opportunity to increase their profit rate by demanding more migrants for the toughest, less paid jobs and with the higher semi-slavery work rate. It is also seen how the farmers are put against each other through the EU and how this instrument works in favor of the monopolies in Europe. Meanwhile, governments of any color increase these measures against immigrants while defending the large imperialist companies, whose profits lies in the exploitation of semi-colonial and semi-feudal countries, stealing their lands and wealth.