Around two dozen tractors, just over 10 horses, five cows, a considerable number of pet dogs, a few falconry falcons, several thousand people and at least two donkeys have paraded this morning through Madrid, from Nuevos Ministerios to Atocha, to defend the “rural soul” of Spain, represented by a salad of associations of diverse types and interests, from livestock to coastal fishing, through fighting cocks or fighting bull breeding, which have agreed to unite to protest against the Government in particular and “politicians” in general, with attacks on the food chain law, the animal welfare bill or the trade agreements of the European Union with third countries, among a plethora of motley claims.
The Spanish nature of the call was evident and was manifested in the multiple national flags carried by the protesters, which many complemented with others from their respective autonomous communities. This highlighted the overrepresentation of Asturias (all the tractors came from there) and Andalusia, or the virtual absence of Catalans or Basques. Although there were Extremadurans, the Castilians were also missing. Nor was the actual representativeness of the organizations very clear, in the absence of the main agricultural unions. Politicians, highly vilified as a general category, were present, and they were all from the right. The majority, from Vox, represented by the leader in Madrid, Rocío Monasterio, the MEP Jorge Buxadé or the deputy Víctor Sánchez del Real, although there was also some from the PP. At the end of the procession also came the group Hace España, a recent neo-fascist container. The success was not great if one attends to the expectations of the organizers, who called for a million people to gather in Madrid.
The march began the other way around, with the successive reading of the claims of the promoting organizations, from a stage located in the Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz, next to Nuevos Ministerios. A master of ceremonies was giving way to the associative representatives, whom he greeted and fired between censures to the “lettuce-eating rescuers” and other critical epithets. There were hardly, however, mentions of specific characters, and the expected criticism of the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, came from William Cárdenas, lawyer and president of the International Association of Bullfighting, bullfighter in his youth, also a member of the Platform of Venezuelans from Madrid. “That abuser says that the children do not drink milk!” He launched, after charging against those who from the institutions go against the bulls, “the cavalcades”, the greyhounds, the mastiffs and even “El Rocío”.
Although claims like the above are mostly associated with the right, there were others that were more ideologically transversal. Lucía Velasco, Asturian nomadic cattle rancher, ex-soldier and 2018 Award for Excellence in Innovation for Rural Women, charged against the “big marketing chains”, which sell at a loss and condemn rural workers to “slavery”. She, like later the representatives of agricultural and livestock associations, called for protectionist measures under the protection of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, or that it be guaranteed that imports comply with the same health and labor measures that are required in the community territory, a claim this the latter for which the International Labor Organization has been clamoring for decades, with little success.
The Spanish fighting rooster, ancient and eternal
Andalusian inshore fishermen fed up with “the tuna passing by and not being able to catch them”, hunters in favor of hunting education in schools”, pet owners opposed to the Government wanting to restrict indiscriminate breeding, lovers of the “Spanish fighting rooster , millennial and eternal”, traditional olive harvesters or the association of farmers from Carchuna-Calahonda, whose spokesperson, Sara Vázquez, spoke “on behalf of the entire agricultural sector” to demand, among other issues, that the EU not ratify the free trade agreement with Mercosur, passed through the stage before the start of the march, which took place without incident. “The police have asked us not to throw firecrackers,” the presenter insisted, and they listened to him.
The conveners also gave voice to Eddie Puyjalon, representative of the French “Movement of rurality”, enemy of the “living room ecologists” who declared that “before the animal condition comes the human condition.” The organization he represents supported the candidate of the traditional right in the last French presidential elections.
More belligerent than the speeches were some of the banners, such as the one carried by a Pontevedra member of the Aviornis association of wild bird breeders – pigeons, in his case – who was betting on chemically castrating the president of the government before pets. Another, more interpretable, said “Come, Garzón, I’ll give you a steak”. There was also some critical reference to urbanites, who were reminded: “Without livestock or agriculture you will eat garbage.”