The story of Robin Hood and his merry men is centuries old, but even in this modern age their example is as popular as ever. In the Andalucia region of Spain the roles of outlaws are nowadays played by a village mayor and a group of Socialist extremists, who instead of rich royalty rob local supermarkets and give the loot to the poor.
Andalucia was hit particularly hard by the international economic crisis and the collapse of the construction industry. The whole of Spain is struggling, but in this region the unemployment rate has reached 34% and some people have difficulties even putting food on the table. The dire situation inspired a group of members from the Andalucia Workers Union, led by Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, a member of the regional parliament for the United Left party in Andalucia and mayor of the village of Marinaleda in southern Spain, to stage Robin Hood-style attacks on local supermarkets to get food for the needy. Although authorities see this kind of acts as crimes, Sanchez Gordillo and his modern merry men are heroes to the Spanish poor, who welcome the food products with open arms.
The outlaws take supermarkets by storm, armed with food carts and donít let anyone stand in their way as they storm out the doors without paying a single cent. Although the staff does its best to stop them, itís nearly impossible to resist hundreds of extremists who wonít take no for an answer. Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, who has been called a modern Robin Hood by media in Spain, didnít take part in the actual raid, but coordinated his men from outside the supermarkets via loudspeaker. He says that he and his group only focus on basic food items like beans, pasta, oil and biscuits, and give them to the poor of Andalucia who are too poor to take care of themselves. Sanchez Gordillo says everything they have taken is less than 1% of what supermarkets throw out every day, because itís past its expiry date.
But unlike in the books and movies, these merry men didnít get away with it. Authorities have arrested two of the outlaws and their leader is also facing charges for leading the raids. ďIf I end up in jail because I highlighted the crisis, it will be a honour,Ē Jose Manuel Sanchez Gordillo said, while another of his men commented that ďTaking some food and giving it to families who are having a really hard time, if this is stealing, I am guilty.Ē