Jobless farm workers protest subsidies

Aug. 24, 2012 at 1:07 PM
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SEVILLE, Spain, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Jobless farm workers occupied a vacant estate in Spain's farm region this week to protest what union officials say is a land-use system that favors the rich.

The occupation was another show of class conflicts that have been brewing amid austerity measures aimed at saving the Spanish economy and an unemployment rate of more than 20 percent, The New York Times reported Friday.

"We're here to denounce a social class who leaves such places to waste," Diego Canamero, leader of the Andalusian Union of Workers, said this week to demonstrators occupying the Palacio de Moratalla. The estate's owner lives in Seville.

The occupation from Tuesday to Wednesday was part of a series of marches Canamero has led since Aug. 16, walking about 15 miles a day with around 500 demonstrators, the Times said.

Unemployed workers said they resent land being left uncultivated at a time when Spain is in a deep recession and high unemployment, the Times said. Agricultural subsidies have been criticized by many as favoring landed interests by paying them not to grow crops.

Canamero said the subsidies favor landed interests because the payment values are based on the size of the landholding, not productivity.

"There is zero incentive for these already wealthy owners to grow anything," he said.

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