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Spanish Ports Blockaded.
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.
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.