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Activist Emma Colao hunger strike to protest delinquent Mogán mayor’s eviction of The Food Project #SaveTheFoodProject

Activist Emma Colao hunger strike to protest delinquent Mogán mayor’s eviction of The Food Project #SaveTheFoodProject

Canarian trans-feminist and gender rights activist Emma Colao, from the association EQUAL LGTBI+, has announced radical action in an effort to try to highlight the need to #SaveTheFoodProject in Mogán. From this Wednesday, September 23 at 10:00 a.m. she has declared a hunger strike to protest outside the Mogán municipal offices demanding occupational alternatives for the Las Lomas de Arguineguin AV Food Distribution Project, who, by October 17, are threatened with eviction by the delinquent mayor of Mogán.

There are many causes and associations working to improve day-to-day life and social reality on the island of Gran Canaria.  This holiday paradise is often a little embarrassed by some of the extreme poverty it hides.  At times of hardship, like 2020, it becomes more and more necessary that these groups find ways to work together and support each other, particularly when they have come under attack from self-interested, and allegedly corrupt, political players, as is the case in Mogán right now.  The local mayor, Onalia Bueno, along with her councillor for social services, Tanya Alonso, both of whom were arrested last week on suspicion of electoral fraud, seems to hell bent on closing the only facility of its kind in the area that provides food and advice to the poorest members of the community. Among their arguments against the service is that some poor people might get extra help, more than the council provides, despite the fact that the council play no part in assistance provided by The Food Project, other than allowing them use of this dilapidated building.  Everything else is supplied from private donations, with the assistance of The Food Bank of Las Palmas and the EU Food Bank.

hunger strike #SaveTheFoodProject

The mayor of Mogán wants to evict a food bank for alleged sanitary problems despite all their inspections in order and no evidence whatsoever
Image: Alejandro Ramos

Having ignored, since Bueno’s CIUCA party seized power in 2015, repeated requests to meet with the Mogán Neighbours Food Project (Proyecto Vecinal de Alimentos de Mogán run by the volunteer association AV Las Lomas de Arguineguín) the town hall held a closed meeting at the beginning of August in which they decided that they would evict the volunteer-led food project without recourse.  When this (quietly added) agenda item was uncovered, Bueno and Alonso hastily organised a press announcement, in which they suddenly pointed to were all sorts of alleged problems with the project, despite not having visited the premises nor communicated this at any time beforehand, nor had they tried to assist in finding any solutions; they just said that the reason they were ejecting the volunteers was due to sanitary deficiencies, alleging, quite unfairly, that the project caused rodent infestations, that the property was uninhabitable and that the electrical wiring was dangerous, among other supposed offences.  They offered no evidence whatsoever for any of this, essentially slandering the project to tarnish the good name of a facility which has diligently provided food to the poorest families in Mogán for more than 11 years.

Emma Colao hunger strike to protest

Activist Emma Colao

Activist and campaigner, Emma Colao, the president of the association EQUAL LGTBI+, has highlighted the social, economic and political context that the Canary Islands are currently going through, saying that there is a real and tangible need to maintain projects such as this one, now more than ever. Her hunger strike to protest the senseless closure of a volunteer, food bank supported effort to feed the poverty stricken, at a time of great economic hardship will demonstrate a certain conviction in the face of restrictions limiting the right to protest en masse.

Colao stressed, in a statement, that they are fighting “for a fundamental right”, for the right to food. Pointing to the fact that what help is available, is patently insufficient to meet the needs of poverty stricken people, this in one of the wealthiest tourist municipalities in Spain, saying “Projects like AV Las Lomas de Arguineguín are completely necessary, and to deny the truth, appealing to the administration, is to take refuge in alternative realities where the procedures of local administrations are effective in a social context, like the one in which we find ourselves”. The association denounces that in too many cases there is a wait of up to five weeks, just for an assessment appointment with social services, and emergency aid is not effective in multiple cases. “If it is necessary to take a risk, I will.” added the rights activist Emma Colao.

“I will remain on hunger strike until an occupational alternative for The Food Project is offered that meets their needs. I know when I will start, but the end date will depend on Mayor Onalia Bueno. I appeal to her ethics and morality.”

The municipal government of Mogán announced in August the planned eviction from this municipal space, of the only organisation in the area dedicated to the distribution of food for the most needy people and families, quoting totally unsubstantiated hygiene & sanitary issues. The Las Palmas Food Bank, which supplies part of the food distributed by the Las Lomas de Arguineguín Neighbours Association, has responded to these accusations with a letter from its president, Pedro Llorca, making clear that they ensures that all partners comply with every requirement and have passed all relevant inspections, as has this facility repeatedly. At a press conference, the mayor criticised provision of food at the Association’s premises, the accumulation of belongings in their yard and tried to suggest that there could be rats in the facilities.  All of this is demonstrably false, say the volunteers, who only last Thursday were visited by a Agricultural Ministry inspector

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