Demonstration in Seville against the turn of the Government: “Sánchez, pay attention, the Sahara is not for sale”

Several hundred people have demonstrated this afternoon in Seville, one of the provinces with the largest solidarity movement towards the Saharawi people, to protest against the surprising decision of the Spanish Government to support the Moroccan plan that offers autonomy to the Sahara, in instead of the referendum for self-determination that appears since the first UN resolution on a conflict that began nearly 50 years ago.

The CCOO, UGT, CGT and SAT unions, political formations (IU, Podemos, Adelante Andalucía, Más País and even the PP of Carmona, one of the Sevillian municipalities most involved in supporting the Saharawi people) and social organizations such as Pro Human Rights and Feminist Assembly have supported the demonstration called by the Association of Friendship with the Saharawi People of Seville and the Saharawi Delegation for Andalusia. This protest is a prelude to the demonstration that has already been called at the state level next Saturday, March 26, for the self-determination of the Saharawi people in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Madrid. In Andalusia, concentrations have also been organized this Tuesday in Granada, Córdoba, Málaga, Huelva and Jerez, while in Cádiz, Jaén and Almería they will take place between Wednesday and Friday.

Shouts of “Sánchez, pay attention, the Sahara is not for sale” and “Sahara freedom, Polisario will win” have been echoed by the demonstrators who have filled the wide steps of Mushroomsin the center of the Andalusian capital, despite the fact that the concentration had been convened very few days in advance, shortly after it became known last Friday, by the Government of Morocco, that the Spanish Executive had decided to support Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara by granting autonomy controlled by the Rabat government.

The solidarity movement of Seville with the Saharawi people, one of the most important and active in all of Spain, is in shock with the decision of the Spanish Government to support Morocco in its proposal to grant only autonomy to the Sahara. “The apparatus of the PSOE, of the Government, has adopted an incomprehensible decision, which contradicts the entire culture of Spain of neutrality on this issue and of support for the resolutions of the United Nations,” the president of the Association of Friendship with the Saharawi People of Seville (AAPSS), Fernando Peraita.

Demonstration in Seville against the Government’s support for the autonomy promoted by Morocco. SFR

The AAPSS was one of the first associations in support of the Sahara that was created in Spain at the beginning of the nineties and since then it has promoted in practically all the towns of this province a considerable solidarity activity with the Saharawi people, both the refugee in the Algerian desert camps in Tindouf like the one who has remained in the territory occupied by Morocco since 1975, when it ceased to be colony and province number 53 of our country.

The ties that unite Seville with the Saharawi people are woven with the nearly 15,000 Saharawi boys and girls who have been welcomed by Sevillian families with Holidays in Peace until the program had to be suspended in 2019 due to the pandemic, with the tons of food that is collected every year in the municipalities of this province to donate to the refugee camps, with the schools, clinics, hospitals, disability centers and postal service that have been raised in the middle of the desert thanks to the financing of their municipalities and its Provincial Council or with the delivery of buses from the municipal company of the Andalusian capital, Tussam, which now carry out the passenger transport service between the different wilayas of Tindouf.

That torrent of solidarity, which has not existed with any other population in the world so continuously and with such intensity, is the one that has now been left in shock, the one that does not understand how now the Government of Spain, formed by a progressive coalition between PSOE and United We Can, decides to support the position of the enemy of the Saharawi people, with whom it has been at war again since November 2020. “It is an unspeakable position. It has been done at night and treachery, as a reissue of the secret tripartite agreement of Madrid in 1975. It is one more act of falsehood by the leadership of the PSOE that acts against its own voters and supporters”, laments the president of the Sevillian solidarity association, which demands, to begin with, the resignation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs , Jose Manuel Albares.

Host families “shattered”

Many Saharawi citizens have been at the concentration in Seville and also many host families of the children from the refugee settlements who have come to spend the summers in Andalusia, such as that of Rafael García, a resident of Arahal, one of the towns more active in this solidarity movement. From his town, 45 kilometers from the capital, a bus has come with some of the host families to demonstrate in Mushrooms. “What the government has done is a stab in the back,” says Rafael, who has been a foster parent for 24 years in a municipality that has already brought more than 200 kids from the Algerian desert.

The host families, after spending two years without being able to bring their children due to the pandemic, are devastated by what the government has done now and “with the silence that is being imposed on what is happening with the Sahara”, says Rafael Garcia.

The professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Seville Isidoro Beneroso also participated in the concentration, a great connoisseur of the Saharawi people who was in the refugee camps during the war, before the 1991 armistice, and who has since returned to visit them several times, in addition to having chaired the Andalusian Civic Platform in Support of the Free Referendum in the Sahara. In Beneroso’s opinion, Tuesday’s protest constitutes a “necessary reaffirmation of solidarity with the Saharawi people to denounce the felony of the Spanish Government that, for petty interests, renounces its commitment to International Law” to “sell for the second time this people to the Moroccan satrapy”.

Protesters in 'Las Setas' in Seville for the self-determination of the Saharawi people.
Protesters in ‘Las Setas’ in Seville for the self-determination of the Saharawi people. SFR

For his part, the provincial general secretary of the CCOO of Seville, Carlos Aristu, has made clear the position of his union at the confederal level, which demands transparency in decisions that affect Spain’s foreign relations, as in this case, and that considers the decision that the Government has taken regarding the Sahara to be illegal, because it goes against what is established within the framework of the United Nations and against its duty as the administering power of a former colony.

Of the same opinion is the president of the Ardi Hurra Association of Seville, a Saharawi who has lived in the Andalusian capital for 15 years and who wields a flag of his people while proclaiming his enormous discomfort with the decision of the Spanish Government. “What they have done is something illegal,” he says, “outside of what the UN says. That is why we are here, to fight for our sovereignty, for our land.”

Frontera Cero, a new Sevillian organization that also works in the field of solidarity with the Saharawi people, has also shown its rejection of the Government’s decision to consider the autonomy proposed by the State of Morocco as the most serious and viable plan to solve the Sahara conflict. “As Spaniards, we are ashamed of the position expressed by the President of the Government, absolutely contrary to international legality,” says this entity.

This organization recalls that in 2021 the General Court of the European Union “made the role of the Saharawi people very clear”, differentiating the territory of Morocco from that of Western Sahara. “From Border Zero – they underline – we will continue to support the only way out for the resolution of this conflict, which is the celebration of a self-determination referendum for Western Sahara, thus complying with Resolution 690 of the Security Council, of April 29, 1991”.

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