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Rogue mayors stand firm in Seville after arrest of union members for store raids

Sánchez Gordillo has occupied Defense Ministry land for 17 days

Another town's official told the Civil Guard to arrest him at his office

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Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo sits on the mattress where he is sleeping on land owned by the Defense Ministry.

Two day laborers who were arrested for their part in a coordinated raid on a supermarket in Écija, Seville on Tuesday have been released on bail pending further inquiries. The two men, both members of the Andalusian Union of Workers (SAT), face charges of robbery with violence and public disorder.

The raid took place at a Mercadona store in the Andalusian town and was orchestrated by the firebrand mayor of the municipality of Marinaleda, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, who also led a group of workers in occupying land owned by the Defense Ministry in Osuna 17 days ago.

Arrest warrants were issued this week for Gordillo and members of SAT, who participated in the supermarket sweeps. “I have no problem in answering for my actions,” Gordillo said on Thursday. “All we did was make a symbolic and peaceful gesture. The crisis has a face and a name. There are many families who can’t afford to eat.” The two workers were also ordered not to go within 300 meters of the Mercadona supermarket. Their lawyer criticized the manner in which his clients were arrested and said they had been treated by police as dangerous criminals.

Pedro Romero, mayor of nearby Espera, also participated in a second raid on a supermarket in Arcos de la Frontera. He told news agencies Thursday that he had informed the Civil Guard he would be in his office if an order for his arrest was issued.

Stating he was not worried about such a turn of events, Romero said he did not glorify the raids but neither would he “bow his head,” vowing to continue to act on behalf of the “least fortunate.” The Popular Party, meanwhile, has promised legal action after SAT posted the party logo on its website with a swastika superimposed on it with the slogan: “With the PP, we are returning to Francoism.”