A LARGE convoy of more than 300 angry farmers from the Mar Menor and Cartagena campo area, travelling in tractors and agricultural vehicles, brought the centre of Murcia City to a complete standstill Wednesday and 24-hours later the chaos continued.
The protestors, who arrived as dawn broke across the city, brought the demonstration to the city to highlight their ongoing battle with central government regarding water shortages on their drought ridden fields.
Spokesperson for the Cartagena farmers, Vicente Carrion, alongside FECOAM President Santiago Martinez addressed the crowd and Spanish press giving a strong uncompromising message for the national government:
”We are not going to move until they give us solutions or a specific date to meet with the high officials of the Ministry. But they will have to come to Murcia before Wednesday, because we have already been to Madrid many times and have laughed many times at us.” He said.
By midday, the Murcian capital was paralyzed with stationary traffic, but the protestors refused to move on. Roads into and out of the city were also blocked.
Angry exchanges between the protestors and drivers, some of whom had been trapped in the blockade for hours, worsened the situation and riot police were brought in when the demonstrators pushed back a tram.
Despite the tense atmosphere, the farmers played loud Easter music and Reggaeton to keep themselves entertained.
The demonstrators originally had a license from the local Agriculture Ministry to bring their protest to the capital ‘ for the protection of the Mar Menor and in defense of Agriculture’ until 14.30pm. But it became obvious this was not going to happen.
”If the Minister, the Secretary of State or the Director General of Water does not come and offer us a comprehensive solution for the region of the Campo de Cartagena, we do not move from here”, said Martinez.
”We stayed to sleep and the tractors do not move.”
Despite intervention from popular deputy Juan Guillamón, who attempted mediation with the farmers, a solution could not be found.
”The solutions have to arrive from Madrid”, said Guillamón. “We cannot tell people to go home without having achieved anything.”
In principle, and in order to move the tractors, the protesters only asked for a “date” for some senior Ministry official to move to Murcia and attend to farmers’ requests.
“It’s only a few hours by train or plane and coming here,” said Vicente Carrión. “It does not have to be today, it could be another day.”
As RTN went to press on Thursday, 24 hours later the demonstrators were still in situ and the worst traffic chaos in living memory continued to blockade Murcia City.
One banner held by a man dressed as the grim reaper summed up the farmers’ plight: ‘My executioners are the multinationals distributing agricultural markets together with corrupt officials and itinerant politicians.’
Another one said ‘I am the Mar Menor and they have killed me’, ‘I need water, I want to live’