First, an apology to our tens of thousands of regular readers, we have been somewhat absent over the last few weeks, sorry.  We have been fully engrossed in an attempt to stop the eviction, without alternatives, of the most amazing group of volunteers it has been our honour to work with for many years.  Normal service from us will resume shortly, sadly the doors of The Food Project in Arguineguín have been nonsensically closed by a heartless town hall offering no solutions to the needs of their own people.

On August 4th this year it came to our attention that a small item had been added to the agenda of a town council meeting in Mogán on the south west of Gran Canaria, set for the following day, august 5. The proposal was surprising, a move to evict our only local food bank distribution point, known as The Mogán Neighbourhood Food Project (Proyecto Vecinal de Alimentos de Mogán). No warning had been given, no invitations to dialogue to try to protect this vital volunteer-led project and no alternatives were being offered.

Is the mayor of Mogán planning to destroy TheFoodProject in Arguineguín?

This afternoon it came to our attention that Item 6 on the Ayuntamiento de Mogán council meeting agenda for (tomorrow) Wednesday August 5th is a sudden proposal, without warning, to evict in Arguineguín from the premises where they have been serving the poorest people in our community, as the only food bank in the area, and helping hundreds of local families, for years, by supplying emergency rations of food once a week to the most poverty stricken in our area of southern Gran Canaria.

The Food Project is 100% volunteer led and funded through donations from across the resident population, as well as receiving help facilitated with European funds, they mainly work to gather what they can to help those in need.

We need to make a loud noise, and find exactly what Ciuca Mogán Mayor, Onalia Bueno, plans to do to ensure people don’t go hungry if they don’t get the help they need from this project.

How will Proyecto Vecinal de Alimentos de Mogán Nabohjelpen help feed the more than 300 deprived and neglected families that the local administration should be taking responsibility for?

Why now? In Summer? In the middle of an economic crisis?

#Mogán #FoodBank #BancoDeAlimentos #TheFoodProject #TheLongWalk #GranCanaria #SaveTheFoodProject

Posted by TheCanary.TV on Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Our editor made a plea on video, viewed more than 10,000 times, for others to become aware of the issue. The town council must have been surprised by the amount of interest suddenly shown in agenda item 6 for that private meeting of councillors, just before the August holidays were due to begin. The serving mayoress, Onalia Bueno (currently under judicial investigation, not for the first time, due to seemingly insurmountable evidence of alleged election fraud) along with her councillor for social services, Tania Alonso, called a hastily organised press conference.  They had no plans, however, to defend their decision instead choosing to go on the offensive, making demonstrably false accusations about the project and the facility, provided by Mogán, in which the project carry out their work.  Over the last two months their claims were not only refuted but repeatedly proven to be false.  This, to them at least, was no problem however as they had no intention of allowing recourse nor discussion on the matter.

The food project appealed.  For several years they had requested meetings to discuss their work and show the current administration, elected in 2015, what it was they do and to find ways to work together for the benefit of the local people who needed assistance.  The eviction notice was served on September 10, following the delivery of more than 7 tonnes of food during which local police repeatedly demanded to see identification from journalists documenting the arriving provisions.  The eviction was served an hour after the journalists left.

The date for the eviction was set for October 17.  Ironically the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The day following World Food Day on October 16.

The Long Walk, a 3 day coast to coast charity walk, began as did a Hunger Strike by lone activist and advisor to the project, Emma Colao of Equality LGTBI+.  She was joined the next day by a local volunteer known as Mimoun and then, having completed an 80km 3day trek across the island, our editor Edward also joined just in time to take Emma’s place, who had been advised she needed medical intervention.  The only response from Mogán was that they would refuse to discuss the issue.  Emma ate no food for seven days, drinking only water.  Edward continued for 11 days and Mimoun was in his fifteenth day of hunger before a local priest, father Adrian, stepped in and offered to mediate, hoping to broker a solution.  The hunger strike was suspended as the first opportunity for proper dialogue opened up, however Alonso made very clear to the priest that there would  be no further discussion of the matter.

Having collected more than 1,200 physical signatures, and well over 2,000 supporting virtual signatures, on a petition opposing the senseless eviction, and having camped outside the municipal offices in Arguineguín for 2 and a half weeks, it was decided to deliver the petition in person and protest directly to the main town hall in Pueblo de Mogán.  Unfortunately the main coastal road, open to non motor traffic, has been closed for several years due to a landslide that no one has yet found a solution for, so the protesters were forced into having to walk 25km over rough terrain, from the project to their municipal capital, to make an 11am appointment (Oct 16 – World Food Day) with the main registry to lodge their petition against eviction.  To no avail.

This Saturday, without further legal or democratic avenues left open to them, the project cleared out all of their remaining resources from the dilapidated council owned building, from which they have operated for 12 years, cleaned up after themselves and handed back the keys to a project that has over the years helped countless thousands to overcome extreme poverty, illness and bad fortune by simply ensuring that those who need help can eat.

The volunteers who have taken such good care of those most in need over that time, all showed up to help ensure they were leaving in an orderly manner, clean rooms and best intentions.  It is a day of sadness and shame for Mogán.

Jenni Hymoff, coordinator of the project had this to say:

“Today, Saturday 17 October, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The Mogán Neighborhood Food Project hands over the keys to…[sobbing]

The volunteers of the neighbourhood food project are handing over this building, which belongs to the people, to the Mogán Town Hall.

In order to comply with the will of a mayoress and a councillor, from Social Services, who have blatantly lied to the people of Mogán, about public opinion of us, who have attacked our good reputation and who have lied directly, we are handing this over to you and we hope, ladies, for want of a better name to call you, that you will treat well these people you have left behind, withdrawing some of us from the activity that we have carried out for 12 years with dignity, with respect, with honesty. And with love for the users and respect for them, and we hope that you will too, even if it’s a small part of that behaviour, and will respect the people who are having such a hard time right now.

Thank you to all the people, entities, organisations and groups that have supported us for 12 years, for everything. You guys are great. Thank you.”

Emma Colao, activist and human rights lawyer has helped to advise the project since they first came under threat, helping to lead a coordinated strategy of action in the hope of finding assistance to bring the shameful situation to a satisfactory conclusion.  she had this to say:

“Three months of proceedings, seventeen days of demands in a public plaza, by means of a hunger strike, 25 km, which is the distance from this municipal dependency, Arguineguín, to the Town Hall, where the current mayoress, Onalia Bueno, has taken refuge, and without access, by foot, to the policies that are supposed to be nearby.

All of this without a response from the City Council, without an approach, simply to understand what the situation was or to be able to open up a channel not for negotiation but for dialogue. And all this under one simple motto “we don’t get off the donkey” [Canarian phrase: no nos bajamos del burro, meaning “even if we are wrong we continue on our path”].

That is the motto that they should probably use for the next election campaign with Ms. Onalia Bueno and her electoral entourage. Which Equal LGTBI+ will follow. Today the Mogán Town Council, in charge of the current government, has decided that this municipality is not so good [no-tan-bueno] for people in precarious positions.

It’s not so good [no-tan-bueno] for people in poverty, it’s not so good [no-tan-bueno] for people who really need help. We are going to continue with actions that are to be contemplated according to the political actions and decisions that are adopted by the council, since if they do not meet with arduous opposition they are going to find one through Equal LGTBI. We will soon announce what more actions we will take. It is true that we do not feel defeated at all. Let’s move on. An occupational alternative will be found. The pity is that it will not be taken care of by the one who promised to defend the interests and fundamental principles of democracy in this town. These people have forgotten what democracy is. Let’s bring it back, at least let’s try.

However, perhaps with Onalia it was not so good for Mogán.”

There can be no justification for the outrageous actions of the so-called mayor of Mogán and her collaborators.  No genuine public servant could have allowed such a travesty to unfold in public view.  If there is a mind for democracy and justice on Gran Canaria, then this is a wrong that must be righted.  At a time when nearly 700 people rely on the aid provided from the EU and Las Palmas food banks, and through private donations (at no cost to the tax payer) it simply cannot be allowed to stand that a delinquent local council can just turf a project like this one out on to the streets.  There will be consequences.  The people of Mogán must demand fairness, and some honesty from their public officials, because if they do not then it is their children who will suffer in the end.  Democracy must be won each and every day, but sometimes it takes great injustice to motivate people to think about the future of their town and their children.  We can only hope this episode has served to wake people up to the necessities of keeping public servants in check.  The food project will eventually continue, but simply put, only because they refuse to give up on anyone.  Not even you.