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A National Police officer talks with a farmer during one of the agricultural sector protests in Malaga city. Salvador Salas
Malaga province farmers slapped with first fines: 1,000 euros for 'obstructing the road'
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Malaga province farmers slapped with first fines: 1,000 euros for 'obstructing the road'

There are some who have received several fines and the agricultural professionals feel that the authorities want to teach them a "lesson" to stop the protests

Tuesday, 5 March 2024, 10:12

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María Bravo, a farmer from Ardales, took part in the first 'tractorada' (tractor rally) protest in Malaga on 6 February. She and her husband travelled to the city with a tractor and a pick-up vehicle. Both were at the blockade of the port to draw attention to the awful situation in the countryside. A day later, the demonstrators decided to lift the protests and return to their villages.

But those 24 hours could now be very expensive for María Bravo and the rest of the farmers who took part in the demonstration or in any other that was organised outside those officially called the agricultural associations. The Malaga subdelegation of the national government already warned at the time that it was going to propose sanctions. And it is now, a month after the first mobilisations in the countryside, that the first fines are arriving on the doormats.

María Bravo has received three, each one amounting to at least 800 euros. "The feeling is one of absolute impotence. We feel we are being treated like criminals, when all we wanted to do was protest against a situation that affects not only us, but is something that should be of concern to the whole of society", explained the farmer from Ardales. The sanction proceedings are based on an infringement of Organic Law 4/2015.

The fine refers to the "disturbance of public safety" for obstructing the roads. "At no time was anyone put at risk. The protest took place peacefully and we collaborated with the National and Local Police officers," said María Bravo. One of the fines is a source of particular indignation for her. According to Mará, this fine for the amount of 899 euros, accuses her of obstructing traffic in front of the Government subdelegation building in Malaga on Paseo de Sancha. "It is false. We did not obstruct anything. We passed by and whistled as a sign of protest. Nothing else", she said.

María Bravo and her husband are not the only farmers who have been fined recently. On the first day of the protest alone, the Malaga sub-delegation said that some 400 proposed fines had been issued.

The demonstrations, which were initially organised by WhatsApp groups, followed one after the other in the days that followed. The epicentre of the unrest then moved to Antequera, where the farmers focused on the logistics platforms that supermarkets such as Mercadona and Día have there.

SUR has also collected testimonies from farmers who were present at these demonstrations. 7 February was the most tense day. It was also the day when there were charges to disperse the assembled masses. Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Among the farmers present at the protests in Antequera, there were farmers who received fines of up to 1,000 euros.

Discomfort

One of these fines, which SUR has been able to collate, imposes a fine of 1,000 euros for "obstructing the road" and described the scene of a farmer crossing in front of a lorry on the road to avoid traffic. It was one of the most iconic images left so far by the countryside protest. Again, these fines are covered by Organic Law 4/2015. Addition, it is to be remembered that an offence of "endangering public safety" or for "disobeying an officer" can carry penalties ranging from 601 to 30,000 euros.

María Bravo, one of those affected, said she is going to appeal the fines because "the reasons given in the fine do not correspond to reality". She assured that this will be the trend among those affected. In addition to the economic damage that would be caused by paying off the fines, she feels that they represent an attempt to "teach farmers a lesson in order to halt the demonstrations".

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