THE POLICIA NACIONAL have arrested 22 members of the ‘Futuro Vegetal’ environmental group for ‘forming a criminal structure’ and causing over €500,000 damage to cultural heritage.
A Futuro Vegetal spokesperson branded the accusations as ‘ridiculous’ and that they protest peacefully to get action on climate change.
The arrests were made in December in a coordinated swoop in Madrid, Barcelona, Cadiz, Murcia, Elda (Alicante province), Zaragoza, Granada, Valencia, Soria, Santander and San Sebastian.
Among those arrested are three people whom the police considers to be the most responsible for the organisation, who coordinated and directed the collective ‘as a criminal group’ according to the Policia Nacional.
One of the three is Bilbo Bassaterra who said: “This whole accusation is ridiculous from the point of view of the law, because one of the requirements that the type of criminal organisation has is that with these crimes we are making money, when this is not the case.”
Futuro Vegetal was created two years ago as a civil disobedience collective and actions including a protestor gluing herself next themselves to a Goya portrait at the Prado Museum; cutting off part of the M-30 or the La Veulta cycle race; and gluing themselves last month to the podium inside the Congress building.
The police point out that their investigation began in January 2022 after several people threw paint at the facade of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food in Madrid.
The ministry is a regular Futuro Vegetal target as they demand an end to subsidies for industrial livestock farming as a key factor to changing the food system and thus mitigating the climate emergency.
According to the police , the repeated and sustained activity of the group managed, in turn, to establish relations, at the international level, with other similar groups that were already associated in their countries of origin with criminal organisations.
The police probe indicates that Futuro Vegetal received more than €140,000 euros in donations, part of which was allegedly used by its leaders for ‘coordinating criminal activity’.
On social media, Futuro Vegetal said Spanish authorities are criminalising the activism because they ‘prioritise the interests of corporations over the collective, or even over the law’.
Other groups have also come out in support of the activists, such as CAES, a legal group focused on human rights.
“We need organisation and commitment to the fight for climate justice since we have no other way out. Criminalisation and persecution will not help when everything is at risk,” the group posted on Friday.
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