Spain's Robin Hood

As the backlash to austerity gathers force, a village mayor is leading raids on supermarkets and stoking a rebellion that could catch fire across Europe
Photograph by Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images

In the farming village of Jódar in southern Spain, 2,000 demonstrators march down the heat-buckled tarmac toward a police checkpoint at the edge of town where, they’ve just heard via megaphone, their hero has been detained. In front stride men in green T-shirts printed with the letters SAT, the Spanish acronym for the 40,000-strong Workers Syndicate of Andalusia, a leftist trade union building a network abroad. It’s Oct. 4, a strike is on, no shops are open, and the sidewalks are lined with hulking members of Spain’s Guardia Civil and the local police force, clean-shaven and dressed in black. The demonstrators’ chants resound, rhythmic and rhyming, in Spanish, punctuated by clenched fists raised high. “¡Que no! ¡Que no! ¡No queremos pagar la deuda con la salud y educación!” (“No! No! We do not want to pay off debt with health care and education!”) and “¡El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!” (“The people united will never be defeated!”) Half of Jódar’s 12,000 residents, who are mostly jornaleros, or day laborers, are out of work and receive no unemployment benefits. “The government is answering our demands for jobs with repression,” says one marcher. “And now they’re holding our leader.”

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