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Farmers, young people and parents with their children join the march towards Madrid: “I have not slept from the excitement”

2024-02-21T19:02:13.629Z

Highlights: Nearly 230 tractors have gathered to spend the night before starting the slow march towards the capital. The march, called by the Union of Unions, promises to be the largest of all those held in recent weeks throughout the country. The countryside has been protesting for four weeks to try to improve its conditions. The Government has announced a series of measures focused on improving the situation of the sector and which have forced the European Union to put the sector's discomfort at the center of the debate. “You are here to serve the people, not the politicians,” is heard in the first line.


In Desguaces La Torre, south of Madrid, nearly 230 tractors have gathered to spend the night before starting the slow march towards the capital


The 230 tractors that have spent the night in the colossal Desguaces La Torre, the company owned by Luis Miguel Rodríguez, popularly known as

El Chatarrero

, do not want to become scrap metal, they want to lay siege to Madrid.

It is one of the five columns of tractors that have camped at different points on the outskirts of the capital with the aim of reaching the Ministry of Agriculture this morning and that were deployed along the large highways that lead to the capital.

The silence of the night is broken when the first farmers start the engines at 4:30 in the morning this Wednesday to warm up the machinery.

José, 70 years old, arrived in the most punctual platoon, accompanied by his son David, 29. The latter learned to drive the tractor when he was just an eight-year-old boy.

On Tuesday he drove from Talavera de la Reina (Toledo) to the esplanade because, he says, he does not want to spend the rest of his life filling out paperwork or watching production prices rise incessantly.

The tractor camp where José and David are located is 30 kilometers south of Madrid, in Torrejón de la Calzada, a small town in the province of Toledo, next to the A-42.

It has been the meeting point for farmers from Ciudad Real, Toledo and the surroundings of Madrid.

The march, called by the Union of Unions, one of the groups not recognized by the Government, promises to be the largest of all those held in recent weeks throughout the country.

The countryside has been protesting for four weeks to try to improve its conditions and has pushed the Government to announce a series of measures focused on improving the situation of the sector and which have forced the European Union to put the sector's discomfort at the center of the debate.

The organization has announced that about 500 tractors and 100 buses with protesters will arrive in the city center this Wednesday around noon.

In Madrid the temperatures have dropped and the cold bites.

David settles in next to his father in a medium-sized blue tractor.

They rub their hands to keep warm, but also because of nerves.

“We haven't slept a wink because of the excitement,” warns José, who believes that it will be the largest demonstration he has attended in his entire life, that is, “if these gentlemen let us pass,” he says, pointing to the entrance of the parking lot.

David and José, farmers of Talavera de la Reina. JUAN BARBOSA

The first National Police patrol cars begin to park in front of the scrapyard.

Not even they know very well what time the 230 tractors will be able to leave.

Some farm workers face law enforcement.

“You are here to serve the people, not the politicians,” is heard in the first line.

Very close by, engaged in a less tense conversation, are Pablo Martín, 18, and Francisco de Mora, 17. Martín explains that he has left his studies to dedicate himself full time to working on his family's farm, where apart from grow cereals and potatoes, they take care of several heads of livestock.

“At 15 years old I was already working 16-hour days,” says this young man.

He proudly comments that he is the fourth generation in his family to work in the fields and that what he enjoys most is seeing how the animals grow, especially his goats.

Although his biggest complaints are no different from those of older generations.

“This year my CAP funds have been reduced,” he laments with the confidence of someone who has been in the profession for decades.

For his part, De Mora explains that he combines his Vocational Training (FP) studies in Reforestation with work in the field on weekends.

“They gave me a wooden block to reach the clutch,” explains De Mora when he explains how he learned to drive his tractor.

Pablo and Francisco, who have arrived from Toledo to join the demonstration.

JUAN BARBOSA

Another group of 10 farmers who have driven more than 130 kilometers from Ciudad Real have also been among the first to arrive at the scrapyard.

One of them introduces himself as Pedro Díaz.

He had never driven his tractor that far.

“We are here to demand fair prices in the fields and for the farmer to dedicate himself to work, because today we spend more time moving papers than working in the field,” he says in reference to the bureaucracy that he considers excessive and that has been one of the demands most repeated protests in Europe.

Victoria Espadas, along with Pilar – who refuses to share her last name – are the only women who have arrived on a tractor to demonstrate.

Both detail that they are still “paying for this vehicle with loans from a bank.”

In front of the John Deere for which she paid more than 50,000 euros, Pilar confesses: “he is my everyday companion.

“I spend more hours here than at home with my daughters.”

She also shares that she is a farmer because she likes it, nothing more.

She mainly cultivates olive and almond trees and raises lambs.

Although she does not regret her profession, she confesses to feeling “sorry” that her generation will not be able to dedicate themselves to the field.

“They are destroying agriculture with the 2030 agenda. We will eat solar panels.”

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, Luis Planas, deployed a battery of measures on Friday with the aim of easing the unrest in the countryside, but the majority of farmers shake their heads, dissatisfied, when the name of the head of the branch is mentioned. .

“Don't mention that one to us,” complains José, who gets off the tractor to see what's cooking at the entrance.

The police still don't know exactly what time they are going to let the tractors pass.

The noise at the entrance to the scrap yard is amplified.

“There are people who have traveled 300 kilometers with a tractor.”

“We are risking the future of Spain,” shouts the crowd in front of the police cordon.

José, who returns to his tractor, explains: “If my son had studied, now he would dedicate himself to something else and this would already be over,” he says in relation to his work on the farm.

Concentration of farmers in the Desguaces La Torre parking lot, early this Wednesday. JUAN BARBOSA

Minutes before 6:00, the Civil Guard agent in charge of the operation arrives to report that only 135 tractors will be able to leave the scrapyard towards Madrid.

He appears immovable.

At the same time, the drivers bring their tractors out of lethargy and head towards the door of the scrapyard, pointing at the main door, colossal, coordinated and with their lights on like a swarm ready to attack.

Guillermo Sánchez is a special case within this group of tractor drivers seeking to reach Madrid: he is 38 years old, in a profession where the average age exceeds 61, according to the INE agrarian census.

“The problem is not the work, which can be hard, but all of us who are here like what we do.”

This season he has planted 10 hectares of vineyards from which, he claims, he has only obtained 1,000 euros in profits.

“I am ruined by working,” this farmer complains.

“If there are no farmers, there will be no life in the towns.

And in a place without agriculture, who wants a hairdresser?”

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Source: elparis

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