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Search words: iosaf

Spanish Ports Blockaded.

category international | worker & community struggles and protests | other press author Wednesday October 26, 2005 14:41author by iosaf aye! aye! Report this post to the editors

The last days have seen the various unions and collectives that represent spanish fishermen decide to blockade ports on the peninsula to demand a reduction in the cost of fuel.

Its a European issue which has passed from state to state through the summer, and each government must fiddle with its budget to ensure that low costing subsidised fuel essential to its industry stays low. Despite hurricane supply pricing, despite Iraq, despite Mr Bush, despite the nerves that nigerians or poor south americans may blow up their oil wells.

UK road haulers need cheap fuel too, and we remember their blockades didn't transpire this summer, well now its the Spanish trawlers turn...
barcelona : blockaded for the first time since 1939.
barcelona : blockaded for the first time since 1939.

The protest is truly historic. Last night a support flotilla of boats arrived to Barcelona (my home) from the Basque country. The port is now most definetly closed.

No freight vessels may enter, no passenger ferries can leave, for the first time since the 1930s the port is closed. And I've gone to have a look and it really is... "picturesque".

Whereas such fuel protests in the UK bring out to the "fat bloke" sector to curse the regime, the boats are far enough out to sea, and you don't get see the militant socialists or hear them.

There are now none of the daily boat services to the Balearic islands of Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza or France or even Italy. This means less tourists can come, and some who are here, are now camping out in the departure lounges of the ferry.

The fish markets are slowly selling out throughout Spain. & the fishing collectives are asking the public to abstain from fresh fish in support of the protests. Both central wholesale fish markets of Barcelona and Valencia have closed today. Over 18million people are not getting a little fishie on their dishie.

Spanish press reports that all the priniciple ports on the Mediterranean are now blockaded. This is not just the historic and symbolic port of Bcn.

Elsewhere in Catalonia, the largest mediterranean freight and energy port for Spain, Tarragona is also "closed for business". This is effecting the Oil refineries.

Down the coast, Valencia - shut. No Valencian can leave by boat. Probably a good thing.

In Andalucia 400 fishermen in 150 boats have stopped all traffic entering and leaving the smaller ports of Fuengirola, Marbella, Estepona and Caleta de Vélez.

There are many hundreds of fishermen groups, here's the list of those in Catalonia
And there are many thousands of men taking part in these protests. And though they meet today with the Government in Madrid to end the protests it is at the moment "an indefinite strike".

[The fishermen want a price of 30cents rather than 35 cents for their fuel.]

The Madrid government will have to juggle an awful lot of pittance for that. Some say the subsidy would rise from 3000€ per boat to almost 100,000€. But the fishermen I've seen just put it this way:- "We have petrol flu. our vaccine is 30cents a litre", they currently pay between 35 and 50 cents a litre depending on their tax status.

But as militant socialism knows, and i promise you the fishermen of this land are militant socialists, the costs are to the economy are so terribly big, they'll get their demands. I recommend a wonderful movie (2000) called "knots" (nudos) about a barcelona fishing anarchist family, who have to deal with an insurance company to get money after their dad dies. These are the working class.

A link to report on the Basque protests, Bilbao and the main seafaring north is also closed.

I'll update.

author by aye aye aye hmmmmm iosaf.publication date Wed Oct 26, 2005 21:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Representatives of the fishing "guilds" of Andalucía, Catalonia, Galicia, Alicante, Málaga, Murcia, Tarragona, Valencia, Asturias, Cantabria and Canarias are currently meeting with the Spanish minister for Agriculture and Fish, Elena Espinosa.

Meanwhile, family of fishermen (fishing is a predominantly male industry but interestingly post catch processing and retail at either whole sale or usual market outlet is predominantly female) have taken to the motorways around several of the blockaded ports "just to get that point across".

Leftwing regimes and governments are often elected through mass frustration at perceived neglect by centre or rightwing governments by the "working classes". Thus any industrial or strike action that "throws a spanner" into essential national economic or cultural activity is very important. More than one government in europe has been brought down by fuel related protests in the last 40 years.

I've been thinking about the contigent of euskadi fisherman (the basques), & I admit to asking a (valencian) youth today how far he thought they had come to register their protest for cheaper subsidised fuel. He scratched his head as i produced a michelin map of the peninsula. " I reckon its between 3 and 4 thousand kilometres"
said yours' truly. "no" guffawed the youth, its only a few hundred "you take the motorway across the pyrennes". ..... "in a trawler?" I sort of needed to illustrate the valencian thing. Kaixo! to the euskera fishermen! They have circum-navigated the Iberian peninsula to ask for 5 cents less on a litre of diesel and make history.

author by aye aye aye hmmmmmmmmm.publication date Thu Oct 27, 2005 12:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Only two of the 17 "regions" of Spain that border the coast (and thus can move their trawlers about easily without causing road accidents) have not so far taken part in the protests. Theyre about to kick into action. The fishermen of Cantabria (between Galicia and Austurias on the northern coast) vote on action today.
meanwhile Andalucian fishermen have today launched a blockade of Cadiz, the very important Atlantic sea port just south of Portugal and within an hours sailing (fine weather allowing) of Cape Trafalgar.

This morning's telly echoes one of the minister's comments that "we are all suffering the rising cost of crude oil, but we don't get subsidised". One TV commentator spat fury from the box at me over my breakfast of tinned sardines and toast; "these fishermen have rights but they duties too! you can't stop the country over fuel".
Yes, yes very fair. But some of us just drive kids to school in 4 wheel drives inadvertently pushing up cost through demand, whilst others weekly put aside centimos of a euro for the heating cost should winter ever arrive. So there are very different users and consumers of a nation's fuel reserves. And very few us go fishing every day.
If we don't support those who do, then we allow those who favour satellite guided freezer ships such as operate from Donegal (MV atlantic dawn) to continue over-fishing West african waters.

And now, the "insider" information. As I told ye all (attentive bunch) during the closure of the oil refineries of Louisianna after Hurricane Katrina, this is the month of the year when both the USA and the EU fill their crude oil, refined gas and fuel reserves. & they do this now, because of seasonal price adjustment. Its marginally cheaper now.... or "its supposed to be". This allows governments such as Spain (with exceptionally high amounts of reserved *refined* fuel) to do a bit of "price massaging" come the winter months when "old poor people need it", when generally the product is sold *at humungous profit* anyway.

So... there is enough oil to fuel the boats. But then again, there's enough food to feed the hungry as well. Lets see if they get it. & if it fails, I'm sure some other country will kick into fuel protests soon enough.

author by aye aye aye hmmmmmmmmmpublication date Thu Oct 27, 2005 20:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It has been reported that the barcelona stationed coast guard, or Guardia Civil, have welcomed the basque fishermen with fines for obstructing the port of barcelona - 6000€ each boat. That's very spanish hospitality isn't it?

author by aye aye aye ayepublication date Thu Oct 27, 2005 20:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

After the government announced a pact or solution to the crises this afternoon, the ports of Spain began to operate normally again. In Barcelona the port authority and its own police force announced that normal traffic would resume at 16h30. And a few thousand italian and french holidaymakers and tobacco smugglers managed to get home this evening. The government has survived the embarassment and the fishermen are happy. Ah!!!!! but there is an ungrateful intransigent community of fishermen who have not called off their protest.
Q. Where could they possible come from?
A. The ports of the Basque country are still blockaded.

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