Two years after February 2020's historic march, in which 747 tractors crossed Gran Via to demand fair prices, farmers from the province took to the streets of Granada capital again with their work vehicles, to demonstrate that things are getting worse. Inflation, and particularly the skyrocketing costs of diesel, and electricity have pushed them into an unprecedented crisis.
The Granada primary sector which accounts for 11% of the province’s GDP launched a desperate SOS to government officials on Wednesday, June 29. It included 350 tractors, fifty other vehicles, and two hundred farmers. Behind a banner that read 'The cost of diesel, the ruin the field'.
The four largest agrarian groups -UPA ASAJA COAG and COAG - organized the march. It toured the streets and took up more than four hours. The march ran from Joaquina Eguaras to Camino de Ronda.
The five routes were well-organized and the tractors entered the capital by avoiding highways. It was intended to be a symbolic march with 200 registered and identifiable tractors. However, many more were added at the end.
The organizers' participation forecasts were almost doubled. However, they weren't able to enjoy peaceful protest day as they had hoped and were boycotted by farmers who were critical of the agrarian Unions.
This group of farmers who are independent and understand that organizers don't defend the interests in the sector occupied the first positions on the march with their tractor and "burst" protest with continual strikes that slowed the demonstration.
The critical group was clear from the beginning of the march that they would not only protest the rising prices of diesel and electricity but also fail to support the organizing groups. While they yelled and sounded the horns on the tractor tractors, the spokesmen addressed the media and demanded that the government take "real and effective steps to reduce the unjustified and abusive rise in production costs."
The caravan arrived an hour late, and because of the constant stoppages, it was unable move forward. This made organizers like Manuel del Pino (secretary of ASAJA Granada), desperate. He insisted that the National Police force the tractors to circulate. They would either stop them or remove them from the track. The special device that monitored protest included 54 Local Police officers and fifty National Police agents.
There were no other incidents than the Local Police's action to seize the device in one of the tractor. This is a device that emits loud detonations in the field and scares away birds. Agents searched the device, which was emitting firecrackers at Doctor Oloriz's height, and reprimanded its owner, who was wearing acoustic protective helmets for not being aware of the danger it presented to others.
The anecdote aside, the tractor-trailer didn't interrupt the subway. Neither were there any altercations as organizers feared after seeing the attitudes of the critical participants.
They were allowed to spend four hours on street and complete the 9.5-kilometer journey. It had to finish at noon in Joaquina Eguaras at the exact same place they started. The organizers realized that the tractors were still at Camino de Ronda at the height Recogidas and could not move forward so they decided to end the demonstration by folding the banner at their heads.
The Local Police disbanded the protest, but the departure by so many agricultural vehicles out of the city, despite not using the highway, resulted in retentions that were transferred onto other roads and the Ring Road. "The march's leader does not represent us. They don't defend the farmers' interests, they are bought and paid for by the government," said one of the critic farmers. He understood that "some force must be used" and "not come for a walk".
Despite everything, the organizers maintained a positive balance. Gustavo Rodenas (director of Agri-Food Cooperatives of Granada) highlighted the large participation and said that it was important to keep the attention on what is most important. This is the cry from the countryside for attention, evidencing their "asphyxiation", and their need for an aid plan.
Nicolas Chica, secretary to UPA Granada could not hide his disgust at the conclusion of the march on Camino De Ronda. "Everything was perfectly organized, and it wasn't us who failed. Yesterday was the last meeting with security forces. We warned of what could happen, and it did. He lamented that there has been some lightness in the security forces, and that the control system is passive.
Grenada's farmer salutes from the tractor of his tractor. / Alfredo Aguilar
Carlos, one of the participants in the protest against high prices of diesel in Granada, said that either the price is lower or the tractors are left idle. 350 tractors participated in the demonstration to demand that diesel prices be reduced. It is not just the fuel cost, but also the fertilizer content. What are we going to do if the field is ruined?
Carlos mobilized from Illora despite the consequences. "Days we don't work, days we lose. We can't accept it any longer. The 'tractorada" also includes field workers from Pinos Puente and Moraleda de Zafayona as well as Ventas de Huelma. Javier was a Padul native with well-studied data. A liter of diesel cost 38 cents a few years back. It is now 1.40 euros, and we don't know what it will do. Speculation is constant. Each tractor costs more than 180 euros per working day. This inflation affects not just farmers but all citizens.
Consumers will pay more if growers increase the price of their crops. It's a complex chain with many links. They all committed it after the increase in production costs. "If the carrier doesn't distribute our vegetables, he strikes or closes, and we don't earn anything. The accounts don't get paid if the current expenses are met. Raul and Daniel, Castell de Ferro's two agricultural workers, explain that working in the field is not financially profitable.
You must decide whether you want to quit agriculture and devote yourself to something else. Who will look after agriculture? Or the field will be lost. Two dollars is enough to make a difference. Paco finishes his sentence while he presses on the horn.