Ana Belén and her mother, Melchora, rest on the terrace of their house, located in the heart of the Lorca orchard. February has just dawned, but it’s a spring day: the sun burns the skin, some cherry trees have blossomed weeks early and flies fly over the field. Many, difficult to estimate. They run around the cups of coffee that Ana Belén has prepared, they harass the animals, they flood everything. Although six years have passed, the two women cannot help but also feel flooded: since 2016 they have lived with 1,500 pigs, 300 bulls and two manure rafts 35 meters from their home.
“You can’t live, it’s the smell. You have to be locked up at home. My friends have stopped coming to visit me because of this,” Ana Belén sighs.
In accordance with current urban planning regulations in Lorca, feedlots such as the one the two women have next to their house can be built five meters from the property line: “There is an explanation, decades ago each family was settled on a farm and had his small feedlot attached to his house”, explains José García, spokesperson and founder of Stop Cebaderos. “The problem is that the extensions have been on the same land, where they no longer fit. This type of expansion corresponds to land that does not have houses around it.”
Lorca does not have a space problem. With an area of more than 1,600 square kilometers and 100,000 inhabitants spread over 39 districts, it is the second largest municipality in Spain, only after Cáceres, which is close to 1,800 square kilometers: “Why didn’t they put the slurry raft attached to his house? His father-in-law has land. They did it next to mine not because there was no room, but because they could”, reflects Melchora.
In 2016, Ana Belén and Melchora were notified that their neighbor’s farm would go from having 200 pigs to the thousand and a half it currently houses: “We were family. When we went to talk to him, his parents played dumb and he said that he was doing it for his balls,” recalls Melchora.
For her daughter, this situation has been “devastating”: “I have been sick for years due to depression and I am still in treatment,” Ana Belén shares. “Before we demonstrated – with authorization – at the gates of the Lorca town hall, groups of women and retirees to fight against the expansion of feedlots, but one day the then mayor brought us the GEOS. The doctor recommended that I not go any further “.
Ana Belén assures that she feels mistreated not only by her neighbor, but also by the institutions: “We had to confront the police because we were single women. Once we saw them pouring manure into the irrigation water before harvesting, we notified the police. They told us to call a notary so that we could draw up an act, that they couldn’t do anything. Then we saw how one of the policemen put his arm around my neighbor’s shoulder”.
From Stop Cebadero they denounce the “irregular circumstances” in which this facility was expanded: “We showed the City Council that it did not meet the requirements to be done even before it had the license. I presented myself to the Lorca Town Planning Councilor at that time, He leaned back in his seat and challenged me to file a lawsuit against him. The helplessness of those affected is maximum.”
When the feedlot was still a project, Melchora and Ana Belén received from the socialist candidate for mayor: “He told me that it was impossible for them to do it that far from my house. He saw the irregularities as I did, and he promised me that if one day he came to govern, that feedlot was going out. Now that he governs, he can’t do anything. If he has to close this feedlot, imagine all those who have to disappear in Lorca,” reflects Ana Belén.
“I would never assault a plenary session”
Ana Belén confesses that she does not believe the “repentant rancher” speech that she has seen days after the attack on Monday’s plenary session: “They can harm me, but I do not get into a town hall beating and throwing policemen to the ground like they did,” reflect.
Last Monday, between 40 or 50 individuals stormed the plenary session of Lorca, where the new urban planning that governs pig farms was to be approved.
“I can’t be more angry. Environmental agents from SEPRONA have come to my house and they have pimped me saying that the manure did not smell. I’ve had a tremendous desire to shit on his fucking mother and I’ve shut up. With the fight I’m leading, it would never occur to me to get into the town hall or grab a policeman by the neck.”
“My neighbor’s wife once came to tell us that she was going to bury us with her money. I kicked her out, but later I had to go to the emergency room with the oxygen on from anxiety,” Ana Belén highlights among the numerous threats that her neighbors have thrown against her.
“They threaten us for the same reason they invaded the plenary session on Monday. They fear that everything will be uncovered. They go with impunity ahead because they know that I am poor. The affected neighbors get together four or five to pay a lawyer, because You can’t do it alone. Even if I have to sell my house to live under a bridge, I want to feel the satisfaction of seeing that feedlot thrown away. It’s my pride. They’ve laughed at me so much: the Administration, the police, SEPRONA. To whom? come?” he concludes.